DEER ISLE — A committee seeking to raise $1.3 million for renovations to the Deer Isle-Stonington High School and elementary school has raised less than half a percent of that goal halfway through the campaign.
As of Oct. 1, the committee had raised $34,253.01. The campaign was launched in May.
The Community School District 13 School Board voted April 24 to approve the campaign. A capital campaign committee intends to fundraise through Jan. 31, 2020.
The campaign will fund renovations, including roof work, but a specific list of projects has yet to be developed.
The School Board will make decisions after it receives and considers the architects’ recommendations, according to CSD 13 School Board member Skip Greenlaw.
School Board Chairwoman Jane Osborne said Sealander Architects has been doing an updated facilities study and will come to the November board meeting to discuss its findings.
“As discussed with the community during the Future of Our Schools process, we will float a bond for the funding to complete the needed work,” Osborne said.
The monies that have been raised would defray the amount needed to be borrowed for the work, according to Superintendent Christian Elkington.
The lack of specific plans may be affecting the fundraising.
“People would have been more enthusiastic if the committee had said, ‘we need $500,000 for two new boilers,’” said Stonington Selectman Evelyn Duncan, who has a child in the school district. “If they had said we’re remodeling the boys’ and girls’ locker room or the gym or something I would think, ‘Wow, this will be a real asset,’ I might have thrown in more than I did. No one has said this is what we really need to do.”
Residents voted Jan. 29 to keep educating high school students on the island and to keep them in the existing Deer Isle-Stonington High School building, which is aging.
The donations thus far represent contributions from 85 families, according to Greenlaw. A little more than 60 percent of the donations have come from year-round residents.
“It is clear that the contributions from the letter we sent out have pretty much dried up,” Greenlaw wrote in a report from the committee to the board and Elkington.
“Future contributions will be coming from personal contacts members of the committee make,” Greenlaw stated. “My own experience is that people have responded positively when I make a phone call or see them around town.
“However, we have heard from others that some of the responses have been, ‘Oh, put it in the budget.’”
There also may be significant donor fatigue because nonprofit organizations on the island have been fundraising, Greenlaw said.
“Maintenance projects are not the sexiest item to raise money for, particularly when there is another source of revenue — property taxes,” Greenlaw said. “Nevertheless, we will continue to raise as much money as possible between now and January 31, 2020,” he said.
Higher than average per-pupil high school education costs — $24,000 per high school student in 2016, according to the Maine Department of Education — prompted the district to explore options for secondary education.