This architectural rendering is of the $75 million consolidated elementary school that’s planned for Skowhegan. School district residents this week voted in favor of the construction plan. The state will cover about 95% of the cost to build the school. Image courtesy of Stephen Blatt Architects

SKOWHEGAN — Nearly 72% of voters in Maine School Administrative District 54 this week gave their support to construction of a $75 million consolidated elementary school in Skowhegan.

District officials and architects now will turn their attention to the design development and funding phase of the project to be approved by the state Department of Education before going out to bid for construction.

Officials are planning for the school to be built on the same property where the Margaret Chase Smith School is located on Heselton St. The new building will house 850 students in prekindergarten through fifth grade, consolidating three existing elementary schools in Skowhegan and some of Canaan Elementary.

Officials are expecting to break ground on the site some time in 2023, with the plan to open the school in fall 2025. Both the North Elementary and Margaret Chase Smith schools will remain open during construction of the school, but will be demolished once it’s completed.

“I’m excited and nervous,” MSAD 54 Superintendent Jon Moody said. “(The new school) will be bringing together three full buildings and some of Canaan Elementary staff. I’m excited to have continuity of education for our kids and staff.”

The district’s bus garage at the Margaret Chase Smith School will be moved to the North Elementary property on Jewett Street, Moody said.


The state will cover just more than 94% of the cost to build the consolidated school. The district has hired Portland-based Stephen Blatt Architects to lead the project, which is the same firm that worked to build Skowhegan Area Middle School in 2003 and Mill Stream Elementary School in Norridgewock in 2008.

This rendering shows the $75 million consolidated elementary school that’s planned for Skowhegan. The state will cover about 95% of the cost to build the school. Image courtesy of Stephen Blatt Architects

Some elements of the project will be locally funded and need voter approval, Moody said. Similar to the Mill Stream Elementary project, school officials and architects are looking at plans for a gymnasium with enough space to have community events. This could mean the gym is larger than what the state recommends and the district would need to pay the added cost for that larger size.

The main section of the new school will house offices, a cafeteria, kitchen and gymnasium, and grade levels will be sectioned off in wings that extend outward.

North Elementary is ranked second out of 74 schools that the state has deemed most in need of new or improved facilities. In neighboring MSAD 49, Fairfield Primary School is first on the list. Several MSAD 54 schools — including Bloomfield Elementary, Skowhegan Area High School/Somerset Career & Technical Center and Margaret Chase Smith School — are also on the list.

Moody said the school board has had discussions about what name to give the new school.

Lynda Quinn, chairperson of the MSAD 54 board of directors, said the selection process will be similar to the process the board used for identifying a new mascot for the high school, though not as comprehensive. The search for a new mascot began in 2019 with the board gathering feedback from community members that was then narrowed down and presented to students. Students gave feedback and eventually the list was  whittled down to three names to then be chosen by the board.

The process went on for about a year, ending with the board selecting River Hawks as the mascot to replace the Indians nickname.

“It probably won’t go to the level of asking students,” Quinn said. “(The board) hasn’t figured out all of the details yet. I’m going to push for both (survey) forms online and on paper, because a lot of people don’t have access.”

Quinn explained that the process to name the new school probably won’t begin in earnest until 2024, after construction is underway.

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