CARIBOU, Maine — The existing greenhouse at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics is not fully functional and should be replaced, according to the magnet school’s chief administrator.
Luke Shorty, executive director of MSSM, told members of the RSU 39 School Board during their regular meeting Sept. 19 that students use the greenhouse for genetics and hydroponics work. They also utilize the space to create science projects to take to the Maine State Science & Engineering Fair held each year at Jackson Laboratories in Bar Harbor, where they have won awards in the past. Their summer camp students also make use of the greenhouse, and it is featured in the summer educators’ camp to give teachers who participate in the program some ideas on the usefulness of a greenhouse.
Shorty provided board members with a sketch of the proposed greenhouse created by Michael Lambert, a credentialed engineer who is also MSSM’s chief operating officer. The current greenhouse would be torn down and replaced with the new one.
The school hopes to have the project completed within two years as they have received a $40,000 grant from the Davis Foundation with a two-year time limit. Other, smaller grants also have provided about $10,000 in funds for the $150,000 project. Donations for the greenhouse will be accepted through the MSSM Foundation and various fundraisers.
The new greenhouse would use the school’s current boiler system for heat, and MSSM is looking at possibly installing a back-up system for use mainly in the winter in case of a power outage, which could threaten the life of the plants being cultivated.
After a brief discussion about the design of the greenhouse, the board unanimously accepted MSSM’s proposal.
The next RSU 39 School Board meeting will be held 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, at the Superintendent’s Office in Caribou.