This architectural rendering shows the $75 million consolidated elementary school that is planned for Skowhegan. School district residents voted in favor of the construction plan in June. The state will cover about 95% of the cost to build the school. It was announced over the weekend that $1.6 million has been raised for an early learning center that will be part of the school campus. Image courtesy of Stephen Blatt Architects

SKOWHEGAN — The town Planning Board approved a site plan for a multimillion-dollar project that calls for a new consolidated elementary school at 40 Heselton St.

Plans for a new elementary school, which will serve 850 students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, were approved by Maine School Administrative District 54 residents last June. The $75 million project will consolidate three existing schools in Skowhegan: the Margaret Chase Smith School, Bloomfield Elementary School and North Elementary School.

The state will cover just more than 94% of the cost to build the consolidated school.

The project’s landscape architect, Patrick Carroll of Portland-based firm Carroll Associates, said Tuesday he looked at about 50 potential sites, but decided on 40 Heselton St. because it is the “most economic” location.

The approved site is just north of the Margaret Chase Smith School on a ball field that, up until last week, was owned by the town.

Carroll said school officials were keen to keep the school in downtown Skowhegan, which factored into the decision on site selection. “We anticipate that a lot of the students will be walking and (riding) bikes to school,” he said Tuesday.


Selectman Steven Govoni said at Tuesday’s meeting the select board fully supports the site and keeping the school downtown complements the town’s ongoing efforts to make Skowhegan a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly place to live.

Project managers have not yet submitted building or floor plans for the new school, but Carroll said it will be about 150,000 square feet. The school will have 295 parking spaces at lots on either side of East Street, and three playgrounds.

Carroll said the construction will be phased so the Margaret Chase Smith School will be “maintained” for the first year of construction until the new building is fully intact and operable.

Architects are committed to keeping the school mostly one-story high so it blends into the residential area, Carroll said. During construction, Carroll also said they will be erecting privacy fencing between the school and residential neighbors.

A change for residents will be the area’s new traffic pattern. Carroll said that East Street will become a one-way street heading toward the school. Traffic will then circulate out through East Maple Street, he said.

A unique feature of the new school will be an early learning center, scheduled to open in 2025, near the approved site on Heselton Street – that project received a $1.6 million boost in fundraising last September. The center will care for children from birth up to the fifth grade.

Town Manager Christine Almand said Tuesday this program is exciting news for Skowhegan residents. With more jobs coming into town, such as New Balance’s announcement adding 200 jobs at their Skowhegan factory, Almand said there is a real need in town for reliable child care.

Now that the site on Heselton is approved, Carroll said he is getting ready to go out to bid in April and hopes to begin construction when school is out in June or July.

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