SAD 41 officials put Penquis elevator and sprinkler projects out to bid

Stuart Hedstrom • August 2, 2018

MILO — In June 2017 SAD 41 residents — via a vote of 179 to 135 across the four district communities — approved an approximate $474,000 loan from Maine’s school revolving renovation fund for sprinkler and elevator upgrades at the Penquis Valley School. Under the program the state covers 70 percent of the costs, meaning a little more than $142,000 would be paid back by the district over five years at zero percent interest.

The SAD 41 directors had hoped to start the combined project this summer, but instead the plan will be for the elevator to be installed prior to the start of classes and the sprinkler work to be done in the summer of 2019.

“As I mentioned in the capital improvement committee meeting, the elevator has gone out to bid and we are closing bids Aug. 15,” Superintendent Michael Wright said during an Aug. 1 school board meeting. “We would hope to go with the low bid,” he said with the lift to ideally be in place before students return.

Wright said the sprinkler work has also gone out to bid “so we can secure a company to do the sprinkler system next summer.”

The district would start paying a year after the loan from the Maine Municipal Bond Bank closes. The $142,000 would equal $28,000-plus to be paid annually over a half decade.

SAD 41 officials continue to examine possible ways to upgrade the heating system at the Penquis Valley School. In May a proposed $2.3 million funding package for a heating system upgrade, converting from steam to hot water, and energy efficiency project for the building was voted down via a referendum count of 166-111.

The district is also looking at an even larger project to bring the elementary students over from Brownville and Milo Elementary to the Penquis Valley complex for SAD 41 students to all be housed on one campus. The district has applied to the Maine Department of Education’s major capital school construction project fund for a $7 million two-story elementary wing on the Sebec River side of the building. The application status could be learned by the end of the year.

In other business, the board approved the appointments for the four Patriot soccer head coaches. Jason Mills will again be leading the boys team and Dawn McLaughlin will be back on the sidelines for the girls squad. Erin Weston will be the middle school girls head coach again in 2018 and Crystal Cail will return to guide the middle school boys.