Houlton Pioneer Times

Regional high school plan remains second following state review

HOULTON, Maine — Plans for a regional high school for four local school districts hit a snag last week when the state revealed its new rankings for three regionalization projects.

RSU 29 Superintendent Ellen Halladay said Monday that the district was notified late last week that its regionalization effort ranked second out of the top three projects. RSU 29 (Houlton), SAD 70 (Hodgdon), RSU 50 (Southern Aroostook) and RSU 84 (Danforth) had expressed interest in forming one regional high school as part of the state’s regionalization efforts.

The highest-rated proposal was a project to combine Fort Kent Community High School, Wisdom Middle/High School (MSAD 33), Madawaska Middle/High School, and the St. John Valley Technology Center to create one high school and CTE center.

All three proposals were under review for a second time after an appeal was made.

“They utilized new scorers and rescored Part 2 to add with the score we had received on Part 1,” Halladay explained. “At the end of the day, the order remained the same, which I expected it would. Now starts another 30-day appeal window.”

Halladay said the state must now determine if it can afford to fund more than one project, which is something hinted at in conversations she had with officials in Augusta. That decision is not expected for another month, or two, she said.

Back in July 2017, the Maine Department of Education announced the finalists for the Integrated, Consolidated 9-16 Education Facility pilot project which would create a new, state of the art consolidated high school.

The southern Aroostook conglomerate, which also includes the Region 2 School of Applied Technology, featured pieces with the University of Maine at Presque Isle and Northern Maine Community College for post-secondary education.

The intent of the state’s pilot project is to encourage neighboring school districts with declining enrollments and increasing expenses to work together to combine resources and save costs.

The preferred project, according to the state, would combine three or more high schools to create a new regional high school integrated with a career and technical education school and with the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System.

Third on the list is a project located in Piscataquis County involving SAD 46 (Dexter area), SAD 4 (Guilford area), SAD 41 (Milo area) RSU 82/MSAD 12 in the Jackman area, the Greenville School District, and the Dexter-based Tri-County Technical Center.

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