Greenville re-examining school project, funding

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 07, 2010, at 8:03 p.m.

GREENVILLE, Maine — For about a year now, Greenville school officials have believed the $7.75 million federal stimulus school construction bond package they secured for the renovation of the Oakes School building was a 30-year interest-free bond.

They learned recently that’s not the case. The bond actually carries an interest rate of 1.5 to 2.5 percent and a time period of up to 16 years, Greenville Superintendent Heather Perry told selectmen in a conference call Wednesday.

“When we put the application together we were under the impression that it would be a truly interest-free bond,” Perry said.

School officials had planned to ask residents to allow them to use the bond process to cover a costly renovation project. The project involves renovating the Oakes building and closing the Nickerson Elementary School. That work would allow the school to consolidate all pupils into the Oakes building to reduce costs and to improve the services.

The news has forced the committee to take a different approach.

“We’re reassessing and trying to find different ways to accomplish the task that we know we have to accomplish regardless of where the funds come from,” Perry said.

Perry told selectmen that the school committee on Monday charged her and the building advisory committee to take a three-pronged approach in moving forward. They are to:

ä Create a priority list of building needs and from that list select some that could be tackled with local funds. Perry said she knows the first item on the list will be the plumbing in the Oakes building. The plumbing is circa 1934, and multiple restroom stalls are out of order, she said. In addition, the water pressure is so bad that janitors sometimes have to dump buckets of water into the toilets to flush them.

ä Continue work toward a possible debt service project to convert the heating, air-conditioning and ventilation system in the Oakes building from steam-based to a forced hot water system at an estimated cost of $1.5 million. School officials, however, hope to secure an energy efficiency grant through the Maine Forest Service that would allow conversion to a wood boiler system to heat both the Oakes building and the Pritham Gymnasium.

ä Pursue a state-approved application for capital construction. Applications for that process are due June 15. For projects approved, it means a minimum eight-year-process from the application to construction, Perry said.

The building committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11, to discuss the project. “We’re going to refocus and take some time to fully understand what the school committee has tasked us to continue to do and get started on working on it,” Perry said.

At Perry’s suggestion Wednesday, selectmen signed a restitution resolution she had prepared earlier that would allow the school to recoup some expenses if the town uses some of the federal bond package to pay for the heating and ventilation change.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/01/07/news/piscataquis/greenville-reexamining-school-project-funding/ printed on August 1, 2014