DEXTER - SAD 46 residents will be asked to vote on buying land on Fern Road for the proposed combination elementary and middle school.
The $187,000 purchase of three adjacent lots owned by three different property owners is the first order of business on the district's path to constructing a new school. The state would supply $44,250 of the land costs and the remainder will be funded by the district.
"We had a vision as a district as to where we wanted to build the new school," SAD 46 board Chairman John Parola said Wednesday. That vision was to keep the school as centrally located as possible to Exeter, Garland, Ripley and Dexter.
Meetings on the site selection and school project will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, at the Garland School, and at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 20, at Dexter Middle School. A straw vote will be taken on the site selection at 7 p.m. July 27 at the middle school, the results of which will be presented to the state Board of Education.
"Economically, we're not going to be in any better position than we are right now to build a new school," SAD 46 Superintendent Kevin Jordan said Wednesday.
The construction of the school is essentially guaranteed by the state since the project was placed on the Department of Education's priority list for funding, but local residents must give their approval, first to buy the land and then school construction. Jordan said if the school is built according to state guidelines, it will not cost the district any money.
The Exeter, Garland and Dexter primary schools and the Dexter Middle School would be closed and consolidated into the new building. The new school also would house the superintendent's office and the special services office. The district leases space for the latter office at a cost of about $7,000 a year, according to Jordan.
The 1950 circa Dexter Middle School has numerous structural problems and the primary school is overcrowded, according to school officials. If the school construction is approved, the closed schools will be offered back to the towns they are located in.
Several sites were investigated for the new school but the Fern Road location was deemed the best, according to Jordan. He said the site has public water and sewer and has three-phase power. About $250,000 of district funds have been used for the site selection process but this amount will be reimbursed by the state if the project is approved by residents and subsequently by the state Board of Education, he said.
A positive outcome at the straw vote is important to move the project forward more smoothly, Jordan said. Once the vote has been conducted, committees will be formed to help set the direction for the new school. Anyone interested in serving on the committees should notify school officials or call the school office at 924-5262.
"We would love to have a large number of citizens join us," Jordan said.
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