SKOWHEGAN — Town selectmen on Tuesday night discharged the mortgage deed for the Cornville Regional Charter School, a year after the opening of the downtown high school campus.

Travis Works, executive director of the charter school, now with three area locations, said the town’s revolving loan for $100,000 has been paid in full, just in time for him to apply for another $100,000 from the revolving loan fund.

“We paid that off because we took out a larger loan through Bangor Savings — that was $2.5 million,” Works said. “We borrowed originally $100,000 from the town of Skowhegan based on a $700,000 project for downtown and when we went for the $2.5 million, that changed the conditions and we will reapply for the $100,000.”

Students moved into space in the former Holland’s Variety Drug last August in downtown Skowhegan, opening a high school annex for the original Cornville Regional Charter School.

The charter school, which opened as Maine’s first elementary-level charter school in 2012, was given state approval by the Maine Charter Commission in December 2016 to add a charter high school and pre-kindergarten classes to its program. The school hopes to be the first pre-K through grade 12 charter school in the state.

Works said when classes resume on Aug. 27, there will be a total of 286 students at the three campuses — 144 in kindergarten through grade 8 in Cornville; 94 students in grades 7-10 in downtown Skowhegan; and 48 in pre- kindergarten and kindergarten at the Early Childhood center on South Factory Street in Skowhegan.

The total operating budget for all three campuses, with all facilities and 32 employees, including Works, is about $3.67 million, about equivalent to the school revenues — about $2.9 million in state funding and the rest from grants and private donations.

“Most of it is state subsidy — state funded,” Works said. “The funding works in that you get an allotment for each child, depending on which town they live in — some of the towns vary by a couple of hundred dollars. That is paid for through the state, so the districts no longer have to pay us.”

A charter school is a public school that receives public money, but is created and operated by parents, teachers and community leaders, free of the rules and regulations of the area school district. Charter schools are open to all regional students, with no additional tuition fees or admissions tests. Teachers touch on everyday skills, including cooking, knitting, gardening, technology, engineering and woodworking, along with classroom lessons based on Maine’s Common Core of Learning.

Public schools receive some of their funding through the state. The rest comes from local taxes.

“We don’t have that option,” Works said of local taxes. “We’re restricted by the state subsidy.”

Works said Cornville is a free public school, so it cannot charge tuition. When a child enrolls in a charter school, the state money that normally follows that child comes directly to the charter school from the state. It does not come out of the local public school district.

Owner financing with Kevin Holland, who sold them the building, also helps cut down on expenses, he said. There also will be rent payments from Ginny’s Natural Corner and the Skills Inc. thrift store, which also occupy storefronts in the building.

Works has said the renovations at the charter high school will be done in phases over more than five years, with the first floor opening last year and work beginning this year on the second floor.

Construction work is being done by Brian Frigon and his BNF Building Contractors, of Moscow.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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