Limestone school hoping pool will be open to the public in October

7 months ago

LIMESTONE, Maine — After receiving major upgrades, Limestone Community School’s pool should reopen for public use in October, according to school officials.

The pool closed in January after corroded plumbing was discovered during warranty work on the pool’s liner. The school had used $110,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funds to repair the liner and decking in 2021, but this year’s discoveries meant the pool needed a complete renovation.

In June, residents voted in favor of contributing up to $60,000 toward that project, which was estimated to cost $180,000. An anonymous donor agreed to contribute $150,000. At that time the school had already put its own down payment of $10,000.

Limestone Community School has already seen local excitement about the pool’s return, said Superintendent William Dobbins at Wednesday’s school committee meeting.

“We have a senior citizen resident who’s willing to do an adult aerobics class in the mornings that won’t conflict with students using the pool,” Dobbins said. “A lot of people in other communities are interested in renting the pool.”

Limestone is the only school district north of Bangor with its own pool and has been popular among surrounding communities such as Caswell and Fort Fairfield, Kilcollins said. The Maine School of Science and Mathematics, which shares a building with Limestone Community School, also uses the pool for athletics and extracurricular activities.

In other business, Principal Ben Lothrop reported that total student enrollment has increased from 135 at the end of last school year to 146 at the start of this year.

“[Enrollment] has been about the same since I’ve been here,” Lothrop said. “We’ve hovered in the 135 to 140s range.”

Lothrop has been principal of Limestone since 2019 after the school withdrew from RSU 39, which currently includes Caribou and Stockholm.

There has also been a slight increase in the number of students who need English Language Learner services. Two students received those services last year. Lothrop did not confirm how many qualify this year but said the number has increased.

The Maine Department of Education Lau Plan, based on U.S. Supreme Court decisions that guarantee equal learning opportunities, states that English learners must be identified within 30 days of the start of the school year, or within two weeks of students enrolling if school is already in session. Schools must provide qualified teaching staff to meet students’ needs.

SAD 1 in Presque Isle recently became the first district in Aroostook to report that they’re searching for an interpreter to help students who only speak Spanish.

Lothrop said that Limestone’s students do not need an interpreter but did not specify their primary language. 

“We have a teacher who has decided to get their English as a Second Language certification,” Lothrop said. “Last year we contracted with a teacher in western Maine who provided those services via Zoom.”

In less expected news, Limestone Community School has not had enough students enroll in its new Head Start collaboration with Aroostook County Action Program to warrant opening a classroom, Lothrop noted. Only two students enrolled.

“That surprised us and the people at ACAP, given the closure of Miss Jordyn’s [in Caribou],” Lothrop said. “For now, those students are in the pre-K classroom. The room is closed but it’s available if we need it later on.”

ACAP’s Head Start program at Limestone serves 3-year-old children. The nonprofit also has an all-day preschool classroom at Limestone that now has 10 students enrolled.

Limestone’s School committee honored 43-year employee Steve Johndro, who retired at the end of last year. Johndro began working for the district in 1980 and later became head custodian and bus driver. Dobbins presented Johndro with an engraved rocking chair.

“When I first came here, I met a gentleman who said, ‘I’ll show you around.’ That was Steve,” Dobbins said. “Steve had a wealth of knowledge about this building and said that he’s only a phone call away if we run into problems.”

The next Limestone Community School committee meeting will be held Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. in the school’s administrative conference room.