RSU 1 goes back to school with new principal, Morse High on horizon

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BATH — The 2018-19 school year should be an eventful one for Regional School Unit 1, as site work for a new Morse High School leads next spring into building construction.

In addition, Eric Varney, an award-winning faculty member at Morse for 15 years, became school principal Aug. 1. Assistant principal since last year, he replaced Jay Pinkerton, who retired after five years at Morse.

Devon Gallice, a social worker at Bath Middle and Dike Newell schools, will be Morse’s new assistant principal.

“We’re very excited to have both of them,” Manuel said, noting that Nate Priest – athletic director and dean of students – makes up the third part of Morse’s administrative team.

Instead of one full-time assistant principal, Holly Feeney, splitting time between Woolwich Central and Bath Middle schools, that role is being replaced by two full-time dean of student positions, one for each school. Feeney will be at BMS, and Nina Willette – formerly a language arts teacher at Bath Junior High – will work at WCS.

School administrators and staff members will return to find Crooker Construction has cleared the majority of the Wing Farm Business Park site, and blasting will soon follow, RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel said Aug. 17.

“They’re doing a great job for us,” he added. “It’s really noticeable to the public that that site’s being cleared, and cleared quickly.”

The house at 2 Anchor Road will be demolished and the road will be reconfigured, with a bridge built over Mill Creek Pond to facilitate traffic from Congress Avenue. A neighboring parcel will extend Anchor Road to the school.

Progress continues as expected, and the project’s building committee continues to meet and tweak the building design, Manuel said. Bids for a construction contractor are due to go out in December or January, with building to commence next spring.

The district plans to host a barbecue on the site in September or October, to which project committee and community members, as well as local officials, will be invited to see the progress made on the site and be thanked for their service.

RSU 1 voters last November approved a construction bond by a 3-1 margin. The state is funding $67.4 million of the $75.3 million cost; $7.2 million is to be paid locally through borrowing, with $700,000 earmarked from fundraising, most of which has already been raised.

The new Morse High, along with a new Mt. Ararat High in nearby Topsham, is to open in 2020. It replaces the 1920s structure at 826 High St. and will incorporate the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center.

RSU 1 will continue its Response to Invention work for struggling students this year, and focus on literacy and proficiency-based education, Manuel said.

Grades kindergarten through 9 begin Wednesday, Aug. 29, with all grades attending the following day.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Site work is underway north of the Wing Farm business park in Bath on a new Morse High School, due to open in fall 2020.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.