RSU 1 staff breaks ground for new Woolwich school

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WOOLWICH — Regional School Unit 1 staff plunged shovels into the earth Tuesday morning to commemorate the demolition of most of the existing Woolwich Central School and construction of a new one.

The new Nequasset Road facility, which should be complete by May 2012 and open for classes that September, will measure approximately 66,000 square feet, about twice the size of the current building.

The original kindergarten through eighth-grade school was built more than 50 years ago. Later additions that house classroom space will be preserved to contain administrative offices while the existing gym will be expanded for incorporation into the new building.

While construction takes place, Woolwich’s approximately 300 students will attend the Huse School in Bath. The administrative offices in that building moved into the nearby Small School in April to make room for the students.

The new school is being built to hold 375 students, including pre-kindergarten children.

“Research shows that by the time a new school opens, it is filled to the capacity for which it’s built,” RSU 1 Superintendent William Shuttleworth said on Tuesday. “People will move to a town that has a new school. They look at it as an exciting new opportunity for their families.”

The approximately $17 million endeavor, primarily funded by the state, is the largest construction project in the history of Woolwich, Shuttleworth said.

RSU 1 voters approved the new school at referendum in March 2009 by a tally of 984-218.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or

Regional School Unit 1 staff and other people involved in construction of the new Woolwich school celebrated the project with a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday. From left to right are project contractor Clint Genreau of Ledgewood Construction, Woolwich sixth grader Aidan Smart, teachers Darcy Emerson and Beth Harrington, Woolwich Principal Thomas Soule, RSU 1 Superintendent William Shuttleworth, Woolwich Selectman Lloyd Coombs, Director of Maintenance David Richards, Building Committee Chairman David Miller, project architect Rick Malm, and project liaison Sabrina Doak.

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.