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Harpswell charter school seeks purchase of town building

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Harpswell charter school seeks purchase of town building

HARPSWELL — Harpswell Coastal Academy, the regional charter school that opened last year, is seeking to purchase the former West Harpswell Elementary School building as its permanent home.

The Board of Selectmen discussed the sale of the 9 Ash Point Road building in an executive session on Monday evening, Town Administrator Kristi Eiane said.

The board's negotiation team, which includes Chairman Rick Daniel, Town Treasurer Marguerite Kelly, and Eiane, was also expected to meet this week with HCA board members, she said.

HCA is using the school building under a $20,000, one-year lease it signed with the town last year. The charter school was originally supposed to inform the town by last December if it wanted to purchase the building, but was given an extension to April after requesting more time to explore its options.

At the time of the delay, Joseph Grady, HCA board president, said the charter school's projected growth to 280 students in grades 6-12 by the 2017-2018 school year would exceed the current building's capacity, which is why he and his board wanted extra time to consider their long-term options.

Grady on Wednesday said those options could include expanding the building, adding satellite locations, or finding another building, but added that HCA's board won't make a decision until there is a resolution on the possible building sale.

He said HCA would prefer to stay at the West Harpswell school.

"We think it's more in line with who we are and the original intent of repurposing the building," Grady said. "We think it's a good use of the building. ... Our board has been clear that we'd like to see the building as part of our future plans."

Selectman Elinor Multer on Tuesday said she's "very happy that they're interested."

The nearly 17,000 square-foot school building has an assessed value of nearly $990,000, according to the assessor's office. The overall assessed value of the property's nearly 7 3/4 acres of land is about $1.09 million.

The former West Harpswell Elementary School was closed in 2011 by a public vote after School Administrative District 75 said it would save the district money.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.