Residents in the Regional School Unit 38 will decide Tuesday whether to spend $5.8 million to fix its schools.

The bond, which would have a 15-year payback, will pay for repairs to boilers, a roof, a water tank and a septic system.

Specifically, the repair work would include $2 million for a new roof at Maranacook Community High School and $1.5 million for a new boiler system at Manchester Elementary School. Wayne Elementary School would get new boiler and septic systems, and paving work would be done at Mount Vernon Elementary School. A water storage tank replacement is slated for Maranacook Middle School and Millard Harrison Drive, which runs between Route 17 and the high school-middle school complex, would be re-engineered and repaved.

“Each building is having some important foundational work completed as part of this bond package,” said RSU 38 Superintendent Jay Charette.

The $5,843,710 proposal will be paid as a 15-year bond through the Maine Municipal Bond Bank, according to a letter drafted by school officials, and that debt would be broken up across the four towns of the school system.

“The goal of this is to keep all of our buildings in the best possible shape they can be, given their ages,” Charette said.

Public hearings took place in each of the towns in the school district in November and December, and selectboard chairmen Bruce Bourgoine of Readfield and Paul Crockett of Mount Vernon said attendance at the hearings in their towns was low.

Both expressed fear that there would not be a good turnout for the referendum.

“Attendance is always better at an election,” Bourgoine said.

Crockett said Mount Vernon residents have expressed concern with the timeline of the payment schedule should a school close and consolidate.

“People are a little nervous about making some of the investments, not knowing if each building will remain viable,” he said.

Crockett cited a $4,000 difference in the annual cost to educate a Mount Vernon student as compared to a Readfield student.

“It has caused folks to wonder out loud if our town might be better off to go it alone and pay a far lower tuition rate at Maranacook middle and high school than we pay as RSU 38 members,” he said.

Charette said that enrollment studies are taking place, but “at this time consolidation is not an option.” Discussion for consolidation would have to come from the towns and, at this point, he said, “nothing like that is on the table.”

If voters turn down the bond, Charette said, “the projects get folded back into the regular budget and will mean making some tough decisions when it comes to how resources are allotted.”

Maranacook Area Schools include the towns of Manchester, Mount Vernon, Readfield and Wayne. Voting will be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Manchester and Readfield residents may vote at their town offices. Mount Vernon residents will vote at the community center, and Wayne at the recreation center.

Information about the improvement bond is posted on the district’s website at maranacook.org.

Abigail Austin — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @AbigailAustinKJ

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