Voters in Chester, Lincoln and Mattawamkeag will decide the fate of a proposed $545,000 bond for school maintenance projects in a daylong referendum in each town Tuesday, April 30.
“Maintenance projects have been competing head to head with programs for students,”said SAD 67 Superintendent Jack Turcotte. “Each new expenditure must be balanced by a reduction in order to maintain a school budget acceptable to the public.”
As a major revenue source, state subsidy began to dwindle in SAD 67 in the early 1990s. Like many other school districts across the state, the district either cut back or eliminated maintenance projects to keep programs for students.
The superintendent said the cost of proposed school maintenance projects has escalated faster than the cost of interest because of inflation. “What three years ago was an $80,000 hot-top project is now a $100,000 hot-top project,” Turcotte said.
According to bank estimates, the district would pay $109,163 in interest to borrow $550,000 for seven years.
The superintendent said SAD 67’s outstanding debt balance was healthy. Turcotte said the school district had paid off annual debt payments totaling about $200,000. Last year, the district paid off its debt for the 1962 junior high school addition, the high school, the elementary school renovation, and oil tank replacement bonds.
By fiscal 1997, Turcotte said, the school district would pay off two other debts that total $41,000 in annual payments. The junior high school oil tank bond and the Region 3 vocational renovation projects will be paid off.
Turcotte estimates the district will add $92,000 in new debt to the fiscal 1996 school budget by borrowing $545,000 for a seven-year period. More than half of the $92,000 in new annual debt payments will be offset by about $41,000 when two bonds are paid off in fiscal 1997, the superintendent said.
Proposed school maintenance projects range in price from $140,000 to $5,000. Some of the major projects include: $140,000 for the replacement of a section of the junior high school roof, which was built in 1932; $90,000 to hot-top the high school parking lot; $70,000 for new community tennis courts; $44,000 to replace plow equipment; $35,000 for new windows at the junior high school; $25,000 for handicap access to the upstairs and downstairs at the elementary school in Mattawamkeag; and $21,000 for new windows at the Lincoln elementary school.