FARMINGTON – School board members at Mt. Blue Regional School District 9 voted Tuesday night to keep their high school basketball games, which have been displaced by a construction accident, within the school district.

After emotional pleas from residents, students and school officials, the board decided not to pursue a plan that would have had the teams playing home games in a neighboring school district’s high school.
 
They voted unanimously to have school officials choose between playing the games at two other buildings within the district of RSD 9, either at Mt. Blue Middle School in Farmington or Academy Hill School in Wilton.
 
School officials intend to review both options and make a decision in time for the basketball season that starts Nov. 21.
 
The plans are vying to host the 16 home games for the more than 80 boys and girls on the high school’s basketball teams, from the freshman squad all the way up to varsity.
 
There are issues with scheduling and certain safety concerns tied to playing in the middle school gymnasium, which holds about 400 fans, according to school officials.
 
The other option is to play games in the gymnasium in Wilton, one of the four elementary schools in the district and about seven miles from the high school.
 
That plan would cost about $19,000 to install four sets of temporary bleachers at the gymnasium, which can hold 250 fans. The added bleachers would bring the capacity up to about 450 fans, which is less than the nearly 900-seat capacity at the old Mt. Blue High School gymnasium torn down in the summer, school officials said.
 
It’s unclear how the school district would pay for this plan, with informal offers from community members to cover some of the cost. School officials said they plan to review the options for paying for the added cost.
 
They had been looking at playing the games at Livermore Falls High School gymnasium, which is about 14 miles away from the high school in Farmington. But they scrapped that plan after the more than 100 people at the meeting Tuesday overwhelmingly voted by a show of hands to oppose that option.
 
The problem arose when a construction accident delayed the opening of the new gymnasium at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, which had been scheduled to open in time for the basketball season this year.
 
The gymnasium construction is part of the $60 million Mt. Blue learning campus planned for the site, bringing together programs at Mt. Blue High School and Foster Technology Center, a career training school for students in the region.
 
School officials had hoped to move into the new athletic facility this season, but that plan fell apart when a giant support structure being built in the gymnasium collapsed, injuring a construction worker.
 
The man was working on the steel support trusses that will become the building’s roof, and 11 of the 17 trusses collapsed on Sept. 13.
                                                           
David Robinson – 861-9287


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