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RSU 39 shows off newly built administration building

CARIBOU, Maine — School officials held an open house on Dec. 15 to show off the newly constructed RSU 39 Central Office, which is the first piece of the school unit’s $50 million pre-kindergarten to eighth grade building project. 

The new administration building cost about $525,000, according to Superintendent Tim Doak, with the entire amount funded by the Maine Department of Education as part of the new school project. Doak commended the work done by J.P. Martin and Sons, the lead contractors for the project, and said the only delay occurred when crews were digging the foundation and found some old cement from a previous structure.

“The [cement] never came up during pour testing,” he said, “and it put us about two weeks behind.”
While the building construction is done, it still needs furniture. Doak said that about 10 people, including himself, the assistant superintendent, secretaries, and the business manager, will work in the 3,500 square foot facility, when it is operational beginning on Jan. 2 of next year.

The next major steps in the school project are to receive approval to begin construction from the Caribou Planning Board in January as well as final approval by the DOE in February, at which point the state will put out bids for a general contractor.

If all goes well, Doak said construction will begin in April, around the same time contractors will work to demolish the Caribou Learning Center, where administrative staff currently work.

Adult and Alternative education programs, which are currently taught at the Caribou Learning Center, will be moved to a new facility located between Caribou High School and the Caribou Vocational Center on Sweden Street. Doak said the DOE will not fund the new adult and alternative education building, and that about half of the $250,000 construction costs will be paid for by a combination of set aside funds and extra money received from the state in 2017, while the other half will be funded locally.

The new PreK-8 school will be built between Teague Park Elementary School and the Caribou Middle School. Both of those buildings will be demolished after the new facility is up. Currently, the projected completion date is February of 2020.

As of Dec. 15, Hilltop Elementary School, which was closed earlier this year, is city property and Park Street, which runs between Teague Park Elementary School and the Caribou Middle School, is RSU 39 property.

The street, which will be completely closed once the new school is finished, but will be used in the coming year for construction equipment. Doak said Friday that he was unsure yet if the city or school would plow and maintain the street during the next few months.

“If the town plows Park Street, that’s great,” he said, “but we also have the capability.”

As far as the new central office building is concerned, Doak said he is “very excited about it.”

“The color scheme is bright, and I think we are very fortunate to have this building,” he said. “At first it wasn’t part of the plan, and we really had to negotiate for it since we are all being displaced [once the Caribou Learning Center is demolished].”

Doak said a lot of people have stopped by during construction and the open house, and many have told him it’s a “beautiful building.”

Caribou resident Bruce Hagelstein said he’s happy to see the project moving forward.

“I’m just glad it’s done so the project can move forward,” he said. “It looks good; they did a nice job.”

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