Three groups of Maine schools, representing districts that are struggling with declining enrollment and flagging finances, are vying for state support to create new, creative models for consolidation.
The Maine Department of Education indicated Tuesday that the following projects have been selected as finalists for the Integrated, Consolidated 9-16 Education Facility project:
— Dexter Regional High School would merge with Pisctaquis Community Secondary School in Guildford and the Tri-County Technical Center in Dexter, likely resulting in the construction of a new building. Those schools would partner with Forest Hills Consolidated School in Jackman and Greenville Consolidated School for distance learning and online programs.
Piscataquis community secondary school and tri county technical school proposing moving into same building. Forest hills and Greenville school on board but only for online technology partners that new merged high school would work with new facility
— Fort Kent Community High School, Wisdom Middle/High School and Madawaska Middle/High School would merge into one high school and partner with St. John Valley Technology Center in Frenchville to create a CTE center.
— Houlton Middle/High School, Southern Aroostook High School, Katahdin High School, Hodgdon Junior/High School and East Grand School — five schools spanning three counties — would join forces with the Region 2 School of Applied Technology in Houlton.
Whichever district is selected will receive state planning and financial support to push their projects forward.
Early this year, DOE announced the pilot project, which it hopes will spur consolidation among neighboring high schools by allowing those districts to form their own plans and ideas on how to join forces. The state would start by working with one group of towns to launch the pilot project, but the new model they create could be pushed out to other parts of the state in the future.
The finalists move on to the second phase of the application process, during which the districts develop more comprehensive proposals for their projects and figure out what sort of support they need from the state.
In all, the Department of Education expects the process to take about three years to design and plan, and another two years to build any new facilities, according to Scott Brown, who runs school construction programs for the state.
More information about the pilot can be found on the Maine DOE’s Integrated, Consolidated 9-16 Education Facility Pilot web page.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated which school would be merging with Dexter Regional High School based on incorrect information provided in a state news release.