EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine – The Board of Selectmen doesn’t support the proposal, but voters will decide next month whether to repair Schenck High School’s roof for about $2.1 million, officials said Saturday.
The special referendum will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 25. It is expected to chart the course of the school’s future for the next several years, said Clint Linscott, the board’s chairman.
Those challenges include the declining population — school-age and general — of the Katahdin region, rising education costs and the decline of state aid and the local tax base. AOS 66 Superintendent Quenten Clark has said that the town’s school population has declined 55 percent since 1995.
Board members opted during a meeting on March 10 against the roof repair because they feared the effect of the project on town tax rates, as well as the challenges the school faces, Linscott said.
The School Committee will hold a public hearing on April 10 to discuss the bonds that would have to be attached to the financing of the project, Clark said Saturday.
Town officials hope to have developed a clear picture of the effect of the project on town property taxes by then, he said.
“We have to develop more information for the public,” Clark said Saturday. “The board wants me to develop a tuition scenario and we will be using facts and figures from this year.”
The $2.1 million option includes installing roof insulation, a new gymnasium floor, new emergency and exit lights and audio-visual fire alarms. It also includes repairing gym wall cracks as well as remodeling bathrooms and drinking fountains to meet the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act, according to a proposal from Lewis & Malm Architecture of Bucksport.
The tuition scenario, Clark said, is intended to show voters the options available in case they opt not to repair the roof. Millinocket’s school board has offered to tuition high school students next year for about $1.5 million, and Lee Academy and other schools have said they would like to make tuition offers if town leaders request them.
“We will use the state’s average tuition rates because we think over the long term that those will turn out to be the most accurate,” Clark said. “We are not talking about offers here. You have to pick some parameters and you have to try to get the most reliable figures you can.”
Schenck High School serves East Millinocket, Medway and Woodville.