Bath-area RSU goes back to school with 3 new administrators

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BATH — Regional School Unit 1 goes back to school next month with three new administrators, as it closes in on a decision whether to renovate or rebuild Morse High School.

Classes for kindergarten through grade nine begin Sept. 1, with grades 10-12 returning Sept. 2.

Justin Keleher is the district’s new director of special services, replacing Sharon Brown, who retired. He spent the past year in Bath as a special education teacher at Fisher-Mitchell Elementary School.

Brandon Ward is the new principal at Bath Middle School, replacing the retired Bud Solebello.

Jennifer Vose is the new principal at the Dike-Newell Elementary School, following Sally Brown’s retirement.

“We’re excited to have them,” RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel said Aug. 13.

Programmatically, Spanish language classes are being added at the middle school, after budget cuts forced the elimination of foreign languages several years ago.

The district’s pre-kindergarten program is being expanded from four to five days per week.

“We looked at our numbers and how many people were accessing it,” Manuel said. “From a financial standpoint, and from an educational standpoint, it made sense for us to expand it.”

The district continues to explore a “STEAM” Academy (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) at Morse High School, which Manuel called “kind of a pathway for kids that would allow them to concentrate on those areas a little bit more as a high school student.”

Study of whether to replace or renovate Morse High is expected to ramp up. Lavallee Brensinger Architects of Manchester, New Hampshire, will update the RSU 1 Board of Directors Monday, Aug. 24, on the process.

A non-binding straw poll on which direction to take, and which site would be best for a new school, could occur in October or November, Manuel said.

A recent site study by Fay, Spofford & Thorndike, a South Portland engineering company, concluded that the Morse property is not suitable for replacement or expansion of either the school or its technical center. Other sites under consideration for a new high school are two near Bath Middle School, and one at Wing Farm Park, near the superintendent’s office.

Capital projects this summer have included energy efficiency improvements at several schools, a renovation at the 1963 wing of Dike-Newell, and technology updates throughout RSU 1, Manuel said.

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

Ninth-graders go back to school Sept. 1 at Morse High School in Bath; 10th, 11th and 12th grades start the next day.

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.