EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Residents will learn how much it will cost to repair the Schenck High School building when the school board meets Tuesday.
Alternative Organizational Structure 66 Superintendent Quenten Clark will review an architect’s report when the East Millinocket School Committee meets at 5 p.m. at the Schenck library, according to the meeting’s agenda.
The report will propose two special referendums for two projects: Repairing the building’s roof and making Schenck fully accessible to the disabled, and repairing its boiler and ventilation system, said East Millinocket School Committee member Angel Danforth.
“Hopefully, I think, it will bring a positive light to the numbers,” Danforth said Friday. “It will be a lot less than $7 million. It will help us move forward because it will give us what we need to make decisions.”
Estimates on repairing and renovating the building have ranged from $1.8 million to $7 million, leading to speculation that the school, which serves students in grades K-4 and 9-12 from East Millinocket, Medway and Woodville, will have to be closed and its students sent out of town.
Committee Chairman Dan Byron has said that while costs could run as high as $7 million, school officials expect keeping the school going will cost much less.
The $7 million estimate, Danforth said, was based on a much older examination of the school. It might be needed to fully modernize the school, which houses Opal Myrick Elementary School, not repair it over the short term.
“The $7 million figure was far-fetched,” Danforth said. “It was not part of what we need to repair the school. It included a new auditorium, a new wing and parking lot. They are things that are not needed right now.”
Committee members opted last Tuesday to reject as premature an offer from Millinocket school officials to tuition all East Millinocket students to Millinocket starting in September for $1.5 million.
The board accepted Clark’s recommendation to at least postpone considering any tuition offers until Schenck’s fate is decided. If the school is to be closed, Clark said, it would be wise to explore all tuition possibilities with nearby districts, not just Millinocket. Residents had at an earlier meeting urged Schenck be repaired.
“I think that the town needs to fix the school,” Danforth said. “We have a fantastic teaching staff and I would hate to see any of them lose their jobs.”
“I don’t understand the negative feedback we are getting because we want to save our school,” she added. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with a school board or community trying to save a school. Without a school there is no community … it keeps a community alive.”
Clark and Byron could not be reached for comment on Friday.