RSU 24 votes to build new high school on current site

SULLIVAN — The Regional School Unit 24 Board voted Tuesday night to approve the existing site of Sumner Memorial High School as the location of a new high school building to be constructed in 2020.

Board members provided comments from architects, who said the current 65-year-old high school building is well past its 40-year lifespan. The new building also could be used to relieve pressure on local elementary and middle schools, which are becoming overcrowded, board members said.

Using the old site would be easier on the school district’s wallet and on students’ commute, said David Bridgham, RSU 24’s business manager.

“You don’t have to buy land, and it’s centrally located to our district,” he said after the meeting.

Now that the board has officially approved the site, its next step is to get approval from the Maine State Board of Education. Then the RSU 24 Board will develop a concept plan and bring it back to the state board.

Bridgham said the state would pay roughly 95 percent of the cost to construct the $35 million to $40 million building.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:

  • The board approved a request from Dylan Tibbetts, the physical education teacher at Mountain View School. Tibbetts requested to start fundraising for a $5,000 climbing wall at the school’s gym. Tibbets intends to use the crowdfunding website to accomplish his goal. “Climbing works on strength, endurance, flexibility, and works the brain as well,” he wrote in his proposal. “It is important to plan out moves in order to make it across the wall. Climbing also helps with motor skills, movement patterns and responsible behaviors.”
  • The board approved a request from David Burks, a fourth grade teacher at Mountain View School, to apply for a grant from Friends of Acadia. The grant would allow Burks to buy snowshoes for 20 students to conduct an ongoing biological study of plant and animal species on the trails behind the school. Together, the snowshoes cost $1,070.78, Burks wrote in the application he sent to the board.
  • The board approved a request to create a cooperative Sumner Memorial High School/Narraguagus High School indoor track team. The cooperative team will allow Narraguagus’s sole track athlete to compete at championship meets while wearing the Sumner uniform. Narraguagus will pay Sumner’s athletic department $500, which it would have otherwise spent entering the athlete into four regular-season track meets.

“This one athlete happens to give us a 4×800 meter relay team,” said Ty Thurlow, the school principal at Sumner, “which is a huge opportunity in scoring.”

  • The board approved a request from Sumner Memorial High School’s booster club to raise funds to build a snack shack between the school’s baseball and softball fields. The school’s current snack shack “has been deemed unsafe,” Thurlow said, “I have personal experience with that.”

Thurlow said the snack shack will cost $2,500 to build, and will be built by both professionals and volunteers.

• The board approved a request from Sally Leighton, principal of the Peninsula School, for permission to accept two separate donations. The first donation, given anonymously, is $2,000 to be used for disadvantaged kids at the school, Leighton said. The second donation, worth $1,000, was given by St. Christopher’s by the Sea for the principal’s discretionary fund, she said.

David Roza

David Roza

David grew up in Washington County, Maryland, has reported in Washington County, Oregon, and now covers news in Hancock County and Washington County, Maine for The American and Out & About.

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