Houlton Region

Regional high school is topic of Rotary discussion

HOULTON, Maine — On Monday, Sept 30, Houlton Rotarian Joe Fagnant invited guest speaker Ellen Halliday to the weekly luncheon to talk about the future of education in southern Aroostook County.

Halliday is the superintendent of RSU29, and is also part of the “Regional Partners” formed in 2017.

Regional Partners is a combination of RSU 29 (Houlton), RSU 50 (Southern Aroostook), SAD 70 (Hodgdon), SAD 14 (Danforth), and the Region Two School of Technical Education. This joint group of school districts is able to apply for more grants and have better impact with their collaboration.

Since 2017, the Regional Partners have put together the Regional Bus Garage, the Substitute Training/PD services, and most recently the Alternative Education Program called the “Summit Academy.”

Next on their radar is a possible Regional High School/CTE project. This project was placed on the Approved Projects list in 2019, after being submitted in 2017. The submission was for an integrated, consolidated, regional education facility.

If the project moves forward, it will mean a state-funded, state of the art regional 9-12 high school with an integrated CTE (Career and Technical Education). Combining all these school districts into one, would create one large (possibly Class A for some sports) high school in southern Aroostook County.

The grant for this combined idea would allow the districts to work hand in hand with the local industries and institutions of higher education to better meet the workforce for the area and create a more seamless transition for higher education, according to Halliday.

There is much to be done to get the project moving forward and approved to get state funding by First it must be brought to referendum vote. Then there are committees to be formed, sites to be selected, designs to be done and much more.

Halliday ended her presentation with a selection of pictures from other recently built high schools in southern Maine. These were very inspirational photos about what the future could hold for the students of southern Aroostook County.

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