HALLOWELL — Coordinating with Farmingdale, seeking matching funds and breaking the debt into manageable amounts are some of the strategies that may help raise the money needed to pay off a bond for the construction of Hall-Dale Elementary School.

Hallowell city officials are beginning to brainstorm ways to help Team Hall-Dale make good on its pledge from 2004 to raise $560,000 for school facilities beyond what the state would fund.

Team Hall-Dale has raised about $240,000 and has been largely inactive in recent years.

The organization’s president, Andy McPherson, met last week with City Council’s finance committee, to which the full council referred the issue of why Team Hall-Dale fell short of its commitment and what can be done to fulfill it.

“There was some expression of dissatisfaction from some of the school board representatives, a lack of confidence that Team Hall-Dale was meeting its pledge,” committee chairman Mark Walker said. “And if it doesn’t meet its pledge, then the city taxpayers are on the hook by means of a vote to cover any shortfalls.”

The voters of School Administrative District 16, which also included Farmingdale, assumed responsibility for the debt when they voted to build the expanded facilities and accept up to $600,000 from Team Hall-Dale to pay for them.

For the past two years, Regional School Unit 2 has used money carried forward from SAD 16 to make debt payments because there is not enough money in the account set aside for contributions from Team Hall-Dale.

The carry-forward funds come from taxes that Hallowell and Farmingdale residents paid years ago, and if the debt is paid off they could be applied to other purposes.

The district owes $252,615 that must be paid by 2019.

Councilor Ed Cervone suggested setting annual goals to cover the debt payments to avoid the sticker shock of the total amount.

“Your fundraising schedule is approximately $42,000 a year, which I think is a more manageable hunk,” Cervone said.

City officials suggested setting up annual events to raise the money.

McPherson said that on the advice of Augusta residents involved in a similar effort known as Team Cony, Team Hall-Dale initially focused on securing pledges from big donors rather than many small contributions. The City Council also took a straw vote to sell the former school property and give Team Hall-Dale the proceeds, estimated at $200,000.

When the recent recession hit, however, several big donors backed out of their pledges, and a group of residents and Vaughan family members said the school property should remain as a park, now known as Vaughan Field.

Mayor Charlotte Warren asked for suggestions from people in both Hallowell and Farmingdale who might be willing to serve on Team Hall-Dale’s board, which has the state minimum of three board members.

City Manager Michael Starn said Team Hall-Dale might be able to receive money from the Simmons Fund, which supports athletics equipment and facilities at Hall-Dale High School.

“This gymnasium expansion was an athletic activity, in my opinion,” Starn said. “My question to (Superintendent Virgel Hammonds) was, why couldn’t some of this money be used for the debt service? He said it was an intriguing idea and he’d look into it.”

If the Simmons Fund Advisory Committee agrees to contribute, perhaps the money could be used for matching gifts from residents and businesses, Councilor Lisa Harvey-McPherson said.

With or without matching funds, city officials said they can make a strong case in an appeal for donations that may be distributed through a mailing soon.

Strong support for the schools is evident, they said, in votes by the Hallowell City Council and Farmingdale voters approving a $138,784 gift to RSU 2 for foreign-language instruction at the elementary school and a half-time nurse.

In addition, students and families have enjoyed the benefits of larger classrooms, a larger gymnasium and cafeteria and a stage for several years.

The finance committee and McPherson plan to meet again next month to discuss the next steps.

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