CORNVILLE — The Cornville Planning Board approved a permit application this week for expansion at the Cornville Regional Charter School to make room for additional students next year.

Board approval of a 24-by-62-foot modular classroom sets the stage for a Nov. 18 public hearing on the plan, after which, if there are no objections, plans will be drawn up for a building permit required under a town ordinance.

Sam Jencks, the school’s facilities director and a member of the board of directors who presented the plan Wednesday night to the Planning Board, said the mobile unit will house the school library and the art and music rooms. The existing library will be turned into classrooms for an additional 30 students in kindergarten through grade eight in 2014, bringing enrollment to the charter maximum of 120 children. The school opened in Oct. 2012 with 60 students in kindergarten through grade six.

“We bought the unit used, but it has all the stuff that it’s supposed to have, like the fire alarms and the restroom,” Jencks said.

Built as a consolidated school in 1956 and remodeled with a new wing in 1990, Cornville Elementary School was closed by Skowhegan-based Regional School Unit 54 in 2010 as a means to cut costs. The town voted to take over the school in June of that year.

The state Charter School Commission approved the Cornville charter in July 2012. A bingo-style lottery was held in September that year to determine which students who applied from several surrounding towns would attend.

It is the first elementary education charter school in Maine.

The school has an annual operating budget of about $760,000, paid from state and local funds that follow each child from the school district where he or she lives to the charter school, with no tuition costs for students’ families. Children from six area school districts attend the Cornville school.

The charter school opened this year with 90 students and added seventh and eighth grades. Thirty more students will be added next year, and there is a waiting list for classroom seats, Executive Director Justin Belanger said.

The space made available by moving the library contents and supplies into the modular unit and turning the space they occupy now into classrooms to accommodate growing enrollment, Belanger said.

He said the modular unit is a 1990s model, but it is in good shape.

“The roof looks good; everything looks solid,” he said Friday. “The bathroom is going to need remodeling, and I think the floor is going to need to be done; but it’s not going to take that much to get it up to snuff.”

The cost of the modular classroom is $17,500. Including pouring a concrete slab for the unit to stand on and making all of the necessary connections to the school, the total cost is estimated at about $30,000, according to Belanger.

Belanger said the school board will borrow the money over five years for the project to make sure there is enough cash on hand and to solidify the charter school’s credit rating as a new business. The town of Cornville will have nothing to do with the borrowing or with repaying the loan, he said.

Belanger added that the charter school this year also received a federal grant for $242,000 for professional and curriculum development and technology at the school.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367[email protected]Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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