RSU 1 proposes $5M bond for school improvements

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BATH — A $5.2 million bond to fund improvements at most Regional School Unit 1 schools could go to voters in November.

The work is needed to improve building safety and help prevent shutdowns, RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel said Monday.

A public forum on the matter is scheduled at Morse High School on Thursday, Sept. 19. A tour of the school, open to the public, will take place at 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, prior to that night’s 6 p.m. School Board meeting.

The board is scheduled to vote at that meeting whether to put the bond referendum on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The bond would include about $3.5 million for work at Morse, where the need is greatest. Another $833,000 would be spent at the elementary schools, $393,000 at Bath Middle School, $139,000 at the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center, and $294,000 for contingency. No work is proposed at the new Woolwich Central School.

Manuel said the improvements at Morse are aimed toward maintaining the building until state funding is available for a new high school, hopefully within 10 years. Morse is 11th on the state funding list, he said.

“These items need to be done for the safety of the building for staff and students, as well as (to) prevent a catastrophic shutdown of the building,” the superintendent said. “These are necessity items that need to be done.”

Among issues at Morse have been its windows, which have in some cases been falling in or not been secured correctly. Water has also been penetrating the gaps around those windows. Other improvements include electrical upgrades, and replacement of the building’s ventilation system.

Science lab upgrades are also proposed. In a recent accreditation, the only area where Morse was faulted was its facilities, in particular the science labs, Manuel said.

“They’re not in a condition to support the work that we need to do for our kids in the 21st century,” he said.

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

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.