Majority at public forum support Greenville’s consolidation plans

Posted Oct. 27, 2009, at 11:12 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:09 p.m.

GREENVILLE, Maine — It appeared a majority of residents at a public forum Monday supported a proposed school consolidation plan but some expressed concerns about the estimated price tag, according to Greenville Superintendent Heather Perry.

The Greenville Building Advisory Committee, which has been studying ways to reduce costs and improve education in the face of two aging buildings, dwindling enrollment and reduced subsidy, has provided residents with two divergent options for the local schools. Both options would close the Nickerson Elementary School and combine all pupils in the Oakes building.

The “bare-bones” option at a cost range of $300,000 to $1 million would allow for minor repairs to the Oakes building. A second option, which is preferred by the committee, comes at an estimated cost of $10 million and would add a new gymnasium and make major improvements to the building.

“It seemed as though more people favored an option that would fix the building needs and make those improvements in one swoop, but they weren’t happy with the $10 million price tag,” Perry said Tuesday. She said residents wanted the committee to take a “very serious look at the price tag” and whittle it down as much as possible.

Based on those concerns, Perry said the committee would go over the preferred option line-by-line next month to see what could be changed. After that, the Greenville School Committee will meet and endorse one of the plans, or something in between, she said. Once that has been done, the committee will recommend a funding option at the June town meeting. More public hearings will be held before the town meeting.

The preferred option would replace the aging gymnasium in the Oakes building with a new gymnasium that would seat up to 450 people, according to Perry. The proposal is to construct the new gymnasium on to the back side of the building.

This option also would create a new main entrance and would house kindergarten and first-grade pupils in the basement area, along with the library, art, computer and music rooms. Structural changes to the basement would include the addition of restrooms, the enclosure of the cafeteria for sound control, and improvements to the plumbing, heating and electrical systems. A new elevator and improvements to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act also are included in the proposal.

Perry said the idea for both proposals is to house grades two through five on the east wing of the building on the second floor, grades six through eight on the west side of the second floor, and high school students on the top floor.

The school has secured a $7.75 million bond package with federal stimulus funds that would allow the town to borrow that amount at no interest for 30 years. That would result in a savings of about $3.5 million in interest, Perry said.

“We need to have a final direction of where we’re going,” Perry said.

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