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RSU 39 residents vote ‘yes’ to $4.8 million, paving path for new school

CARIBOU, Maine — RSU 39 communities of Caribou, Limestone, and Stockholm overwhelmingly approved a referendum question asking for the school system to accept $4.8 million from the state Department of Education for a new Pre-K-8 school in Caribou.

The need for additional funds came about when the only bid on the $27,267,334 construction project came in at $49,511,000. While the contractor, Bowman Constructors of Newport, worked with RSU 39, PDT Architects and the Maine DOE to narrow the gap, the project required an additional $4.8 million for school furniture, cooking equipment and an energy-efficient wood chip boiler, among several other features.

The money will also fund the asbestos abatement and demolition of Teague Park Elementary school, which sits adjacent to the site where the new school will be built.

If the vote had not passed, school officials would have had to ask voters to raise money for the asbestos abatement and demolition, and much of the furniture in the new building would come from existing schools. The lack of an energy-efficient biomass boiler would also result in less money saved over time.

In the Sept. 6 referendum vote, 82 percent of RSU 39 voters approved the additional funding, with 545 Caribou voters in favor and only 74 opposed. Limestone voters did not favor the addition, as 26 voted in favor and 50 voted against it. Only eight Stockholm residents voted, and all were in favor.

RSU 39 Superintendent Tim Doak said he and the administration is “very thankful to the RSU 39 community for the vote.”

“They really did understand the issue we were faced with,” he said, “and it’s allowed us to have the school we really deserve by putting 20 items back into the project. We’re thankful to the taxpayers and citizens for understanding this complex problem, and showing their support for education.”

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