SKOWHEGAN — The Cornville Regional Charter School is applying to the Maine Charter School Commission to open a high school in the former Holland’s Variety Drug in downtown Skowhegan.

That was part of what emerged Tuesday night during the first Coffee and Conversation session held before the regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen.

Charter school Principal and Executive Director Travis Works, a Skowhegan resident, said he talked about the plan Tuesday night with the Skowhegan police chief and the fire chief.

“We were just talking about Cornville’s interest in opening a high school in the downtown area,” Works said. “We’re in the application phase.”

Works said the Cornville school, the first charter elementary school in Maine, is going through the renewal phase for the existing school and is adding in the application a request for a high school and a pre-kindergarten school. Over the course of the next five years, the charter school’s board would like to see 200 to 250 students in the high school. An inspector from the Office of State Fire Marshal has visited the former drugstore, looking at space for corridors, classrooms, exits and entrances and adding a sprinkler system, he said.

He said the money for a charter high school in Skowhegan would come from state subsidies, loans and grants. An application to the charter commission is due by Sept. 30. A decision is expected by Thanksgiving, Works said. He said they anticipate opening by the fall of 2017.

Works said existing bus routes to take students to and from the charter high school already are in place for staggered start times.

The Cornville school serves a student population of about 144 students in grades kindergarten through eight from 11 surrounding communities. It opened Oct. 1, 2012 after School Administrative District 54 opted to close Cornville Elementary School.

Plans to move Holland’s Variety Drug from its location on Water Street, with an entrance on Commercial Street, were announced in April 2014. Kevin Holland, who also owns Mt. Blue Drug in Farmington, bought the former U.S. Department of Agriculture service center at 12 High St. and moved the drugstore there.

Selectmen hope to hold the Coffee and Conversation once a month, inviting residents to come in, have a cup of coffee and say what’s on their mind. Tuesday’s night first meeting was casual and informal, with about seven residents chatting with town officials one-to-one.

Concerns included broken windows and trash downtown and the limited number of trash disposal containers.

Resident Shirley Whittemore said she was concerned about the proposal to change the jobs of town clerk, town treasurer and road commissioner from elective positions, as they currently are, to ones the town manager fills by appointment. She told selectmen she favors the change.

That issue was taken up by the board in a formal public hearing after the Coffee and Conversation meeting.

The proposal goes to town voters as a referendum question on Nov. 8, Election Day.

Selectmen have discussed the subject and decided to put it on the ballot.

The new language of the referendum question asks voters if they want to change the positions effective the day following townwide elections in June 2018, when all three terms expire. If voters approve the measures in November, the positions of treasurer, town clerk and road commissioner would not be on the ballot.

If Skowhegan residents vote not to change the way the positions are filled, then elections would be held as usual.

Selectmen voted in February to present it on the November ballot and not the Town Meeting voting ballot in June, when fewer people tend to go to the polls. Town Clerk/Treasurer Gail Pelotte, whose position would be affected by the vote in November, reported to selectmen in February the results of votes taken on the subject on Nov. 4, 2008, when the questions were defeated.

Road Commissioner Gregory Dore, 60, has been Skowhegan’s elected road commissioner for 23 years. He has been challenged for the job every three years but has won each time.

Pelotte, 55, was re-elected unopposed for a three-year term in 2015. She is in her third three-year term.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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