houlton me hs

Maine cancels plans to build a $120 million regional high school

Dec. 28, 2020
After two participating districts withdrew from the plan, state education officers say they aren't going forward with plans to build a regional high in Aroostook County.

The Maine Department of Education has scrapped plans to build a $120 million regional high school in southern Aroostook County.

The Bangor Daily News reports that the proposal would have been part of the state’s pilot project to help neighboring smaller school districts with declining enrollments  to combine resources and save on costs.

Regional School Unit 29 Superintendent Ellen Halliday says the district has received verbal confirmation that a proposed consolidated high school for RSU 29, School Administrative District 70 and Region Two is off the table.

“The state Board of Education was not interested in approving the project with only two high schools and a [career and technical school],” Halliday says.

In 2017, five school districts — RSU 29 (Houlton), SAD 70 (Hodgdon), RSU 50 (Southern Aroostook), SAD 14 (East Grand) and Region Two — submitted a proposal for a regional high school system.

The project was one of two such consolidations to be awarded funding. Up to $120 million was earmarked for a new school.

SAD 14 pulled out of the southern Aroostook project in November 2019, citing concerns about a negative economic effect on the Danforth area, as well as the distance students would be required to travel.

Earlier this year, RSU 50 school board also voted to pull out of the deal. That board cited concerns with being asked to approve funding for startup costs to include engineering studies, architectural design costs and other legal expenses

With just two high schools, as well as the Region Two School of Applied Technology, remaining as part of the regional plan, the state decided to shift the available funding to another regional school project.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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