Topsham-area SAD seeks fundraisers for new high school

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TOPSHAM — School Administrative District 75 is forming a fundraising committee to address expenses for a new high school above and beyond what the state would pay.

The panel will likely have two goals, SAD 75 Superintendent Brad Smith said Monday. One, ideally with a member from each of the district’s four towns – Topsham, Harpswell, Bowdoin and Bowdoinham – would focus on major financial contributions.

These donations would earn “naming rights,” Smith said, and would be limited to areas frequently used by the public, such as a gym, athletic fields, or an auditorium.

“It’s going to take quite a financial commitment from an organization or a business to provide for something like naming rights,” Smith explained. “So we’d like to get some people who are pretty well-known in the community, pretty well-respected, to step into that role and reach out” to entities that might be interested in those rights.

The fundraising committee’s other aim will be soliciting sponsorships at various donation levels, with gifts possibly recognized on a plaque or stone.

The School Board “was really interested in having avenues available,” Smith said. “So if people wanted to be connected to the project, wanted to have their name attached, or in honor of someone … there was an opportunity to do that.”

Smith said he would like to see four or five people participate in the sponsorship end of the fundraising committee, which he expects to be less time consuming.

Included among the items fundraising could cover is additional gym space above what the state will fund (14,000 square feet, compared with the state’s 10,000), a synthetic turf field, and possibly an auditorium, Smith said.

People who to serve on the committee can send an email to brillantb@link75.org or via the input box at construction.link75.org. A letter of interest can also be sent to Superintendent’s Office, Attn: Mt. Ararat HS Building Project, 50 Republic Ave., Topsham, ME 04086.

Responses should be submitted by Friday, May 6. More information is available at link75.org.

Respondents are asked to indicate which part of fundraising they want to focus on; why they are interested in serving; what experience, skills or interest they have that will help the subcommittee or subcommittees whether they are prepared to commit to the required time.

Smith said he would like the committee’s work wrapped up as soon as possible, “because we can’t go to referendum until we’ve identified what portions of the building will be funded through an additional local funding, and which portions will be done through donations and fundraising efforts.”

The district has been eyeing a November referendum – expected to draw large numbers of voters because of the presidential election – for a local vote on building the new school. The facility would replace the existing Mt. Ararat High School, built in 1973, and likely be located on the football field and track space on the 40-acre campus.

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.