Caribou school district officials await details from state about funding for building project

Posted Aug. 21, 2014, at 7:10 p.m.

CARIBOU, Maine — Officials in the Eastern Aroostook Regional School Unit 39 school district in Caribou are awaiting news about whether the school unit is slated to receive state funds for a building project.

Superintendent Susan White said Wednesday the district has no further information on the details of what that project might entail.

“We literally don’t know very much about the project at all,” White said. “It could be money for a new door or a new classroom or just windows. We really haven’t gotten any information beyond that. This is quite a thing to be dropped into when you are just coming into a new school district.”

Eastern Aroostook RSU 39 serves more than 1,600 students in six schools and employs more than 250 teachers and support staff, according to its website.

White, who took over as superintendent of the district that serves Caribou, Limestone and Stockholm on Aug. 1, replaced retiring Superintendent Frank McElwain.

She said she and McElwain attended a July 23 meeting in Augusta with Scott Brown, director of school facilities services with the Maine Department of Education. That was when the information about the project was disclosed.

“He told us that he had good news and that we had a project,” she explained. “But at the same time, he said there wasn’t much more he could say about it. The next step will be a visit from him and his team next month or maybe in October. Then, they will take a tour of our school buildings.”

White was quick to respond when asked whether the district needed a new school.

“Doesn’t every district need a new school?” she replied. “But whenever the DOE does any sort of project with a district, there is a lot involved. There is a lot of data that we have to sift through. We will look at the age and shape of all of the buildings here when we have that meeting. There is a big binder full of information from the Department of Education that walks you through it. It is a very methodical approach. This is all just in the preliminary stages.”

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