May 24, 2018
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East Machias reviews options for Elm Street School

By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff

EAST MACHIAS — About two dozen residents apparently heeded the advice of their selectmen and school board members Monday night when, in an informal survey, they put their stamp of approval on the most ambitious of four options for Elm Street School renovations.

The options included plans for replacing the existing flat and sawtooth roofs with pitched roofs and reroofing the gymnasium with a rubber membrane. Two of the options included adding a 3,000-square-foot addition that could house three classrooms.

Principal Anthony Maker said that Elm Street had 137 students in 2000 but now has 194.

“That’s a 46 percent increase,’’ Maker said.

Space is at a premium. Maker said the algebra class was meeting in the computer room and the language class is held in the art room. Some classroom sizes are approaching 25 students and Maker said that as the school population continues to grow, some of those classes will need to be split.

Superintendent Scott Porter said that East Machias is now the fourth-largest town in Washington County with a valuation of more than $95 million. Elm Street School is a municipally run school and the town contracts with AOS 96 for administrative services.

Richard Higgins of Higgins and Merriam Architects of Rockland explained the options, pointing out that the most aggressive option would solve a number of water and space problems.

The options’ costs ranged from $987,500 (a 20-year loan with annual payments of $71,808), which would increase taxes by just under a mill, to $391,000 (a 10-year loan with annual payments of $47,504), which would increase taxes by less than a half mill.

A mill represents $1 for every $1,000 of property valuation, so the most aggressive plan would increase the annual property taxes on a $100,000 home by $100.

When asked by residents attending the meeting, the school board and selectmen unanimously endorsed the largest, most ambitious plan — option one. The selectmen, however, said they felt that construction should be put off for a year to see if any state funding becomes available.

Selectmen did recommend initiating the engineering portion of the project soon, however.

Porter said that if the project is acted on this year, it could be built in the summer of 2012. He said the chances of the school receiving any funding for the roof were slim and that no funding would be available for the addition.

After the meeting, Porter said the school board and the selectmen now will meet jointly to determine which option will be selected and what timeline will be adopted.

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