Penquis Valley facility upgrade continues

Staff, Piscataquis Observer • August 15, 2019

MILO — With students’ summer vacation nearing an end in several weeks, work continues on an upgrade to the heating system at the Penquis Valley School as well as an elevator installation for the building.

“The things we can control we are in pretty good shape on,” Director of Building and Grounds Donnie Richards said during an Aug. 14 school board meeting in the library.

Richards said the installation of three dozen heaters would not be finished until early September. “They are going to have to go on nights,” he said about the contractors. Richards said before a heater can be put in, the accompanying plumbing work needs to be completed and a delay to this work has postponed the installation.

Earlier this year SAD 41 voters overwhelmingly approved a $2.4 million funding package to upgrade the heating system. The vote was 152-25 with the referendum approved in each district community: 7-1 in Atkinson, 55-9 in Brownville, 19-5 in LaGrange and 71-10 in Milo.

The Penquis Valley project has three objectives. The first is to update the steam heating system infrastructure that is beyond its useful life, to improve reliability, comfort, indoor air quality and safety. The other objectives are to reduce annual energy and operating costs and reduce future building repair costs.

The gross projected project cost is $2,414,923, with a little more than $2.1 million for the steam to hot water system conversion, another $190,000 is for LED lighting upgrades and an additional is for $34,700 for building weatherization improvements.

The project is being financed under a 20-year bond through the Maine Municipal Bond Bank. The estimated annual bond cost, fixed for two decades starting with the 2020-21 fiscal year, is $177,694 but there would be various measures in place to reduce the costs.

SAD 41 would have a little more than $19,000 in existing budget savings for energy usage and another $40,000 in operating budget capital contributions. The Honeywell service contract would be reduced by $25,000, the maintenance budget could decrease by $2,500 and for the first year there would be a one-time Efficiency Maine rebate of $29,195.

The first year $61,953 cost is part of the 2019-20 academic year budget. SAD 41’s estimated total net cost, after the various savings measures such as reduced energy expenditures and a reduction in the Honeywell contract, over 20 years would be $744,143. The annual portion of the $744,143 to be paid by the district would vary year by year.

The loan and contract with Honeywell were both executed in late March. Construction began in early June with substantial completion set to be done by late September and the project sign off is Nov. 29.

“They hope to have it up and certified by the end of the first week of September,” Richards said about the Penquis Valley elevator.

In other business Penquis Valley High School Principal Michael Rollins said “There’s a lot of great things for this year we’re adding on I’m excited about.”

In his report Rollins wrote that schedules have been reworked for 2019-20 to allow for common planning periods for science, English/language arts and math content teams respectively. Each week the groups will be able to work together on initiatives such as professional and curriculum development, data analysis, intervention resources/strategies, classroom management practices, restorative justice, trauma sensitive practices and more.

Rollins wrote that last year a schedule adjustment allowed for an intervention period for students struggling in certain subject areas to work with their teachers, and there were many success stories. The principal wrote that the period will be organized for the new school year to allow for scheduled times for academic interventions, social-emotional learning, PSAT and SAT prep, portfolio development, fitness and more.

He also said career fairs are being planned for the fall and spring.

Superintendent Michael Wright welcomed Frank Cochrane back to the school board as a representative of Milo. Wright said board member Denise Hamlin of Milo has resigned after she accepted the position of director of special services in the Dexter-based AOS 94.

The four fall soccer coaches were appointed. Jason Mills will lead the Patriot boys team while Dawn McLaughlin will lead the girls squad. For the Penquis Valley Middle School Railroaders, Crystal Cail and Erin Weston are the respective boys and girls head coaches.