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New elementary school in Caribou, Maine, culminates 10-year effort

Dec. 14, 2020
The $54 million Caribou Community School replaces 1 middle and 2 elementary schools.

After a decade-long effort, Eastern Aroostook (Maine) Regional School Unit 39 has opened a new preK-8 campus in Caribou.

The Bangor Daily News reports that the completion of the $54 million Caribou Community School comes after numerous obstacles that challenged administrators.

The obstacles included a mandatory land swap involving the National Park Service, a bid that was $12 million over budget, and complications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Talk of a new school began in 2010. Caribou’s schools were not energy-efficient and were showing their age, and the state saw an opportunity to condense the number of schools in RSU 39 by combining the three schools into one preK-8 facility, said Superintendent Tim Doak. Planners determined that Teague Park —adjacent to the elementary school of the same name — was the best site for a new building.

Progress stalled in late 2015, when district administrators learned the school could not legally be built where Teague Park stood unless a land swap, approved by the National Park Service, took place.

A land swap was approved in October 2016, and the State Board of Education subsequently approved the Teague Park site. Workers broke ground in August 2018, and the school opened its doors to students on Nov. 9. 

The new facility has 72-inch touchscreen smart TVs that enable students to broadcast work and projects through their laptops to share with the rest of the class. Classrooms have mobile desks and furniture for multiple configurations, determined by the day’s lesson. Students’ chairs are adjustable in multiple ways to decrease restlessness.

The school also includes three spacious science labs with an Innovation Center focusing on STEM classes, and teachers instruct students from a mobile and adjustable podium, eliminating the need for large desks.

Many of the school’s modern features will also help staff, teachers and students maintain social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

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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