New RSU 1 high school could go to referendum next year

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BATH — Regional School Unit 1 administrators are eyeing the Wing Farm business park for a new high school.

A referendum on the project could be held as soon as next June.

The school district has been in talks with city officials about building a new high school either adjacent to Bath Middle School, or at Wing Farm.

RSU representatives said they are interested in purchasing both parcels – which sit near each other north of Congress Avenue – to provide room for both the school and new athletic fields.

The City Council, which has encouraged input from residents, must formally vote on whether to sell property to the RSU, which includes Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg and Woolwich.

The RSU 1 board recently authorized Superintendent Patrick Manuel to obtain an option from the city to purchase the Wing Farm parcel.

“We can provide (the city) with something to consider,” Manuel said in an interview Aug. 18. “… It’s not a binding agreement that we have to purchase the property; it just allows us to hopefully have the city hold the property for us.”

It also allows RSU 1 to apply to the state Board of Education for site approval for the construction project, while the district does further research, Manuel said.

“We still will continue to explore other properties while we’re doing this,” said Manuel, who pointed out, “There were some land and water conservation issues” at the site adjacent to the middle school, which complicated that option from the standpoints of both money and time.

A purchase price for the Wing Farm land has yet to be determined, Manuel said.

Other changes as RSU 1 goes back to school include Julie Kenny, hired as the new director of the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center. Formerly a teacher and student services director there, she replaces Joel Austin, who recently retired after seven years, Manuel said.

“We’re excited to have her move into the director’s role,” Manuel said.

RSU 1 this year will also offer the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) Academy at Morse High School, which provides “a lot of opportunities for kids … to specialize in those areas as they go through their high school,” Manuel said.

There will also be an increase in nursing services at elementary schools in Bath and Phippsburg, and all seventh- and eighth-graders will be offered Spanish in the coming year, while sixth-graders can undertake an introductory foreign language program.

A technology integrator will also be on staff to work with teachers and students in grades six through 12 on integrating technology into the curriculum.

In addition, middle school lacrosse, which had been a city recreational program, this year is being offered through the school district.

Kindergarten to ninth grades start Sept. 1, and grades 10-12 start the following day.

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

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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.