MSAD 9’s construction projects delayed

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FARMINGTON – The bonding delays for school construction projects announced by the state yesterday as a cost-saving measure is actually good news for MSAD 9.

The bonding delays, six months for the new pre-kindergarten through third-grade Mallett School project and one year for the Mt. Blue High School and Foster Regional Applied Technology Center renovation and addition construction project, will mean a delay of about nine months for Mallett School and a year for the high school projects’ completion.

The delays are a good thing, said MSAD 9 Assistant Superintendent Susan Pratt.

“It has slowed down the Mallett School project,” Pratt said, “and gives us a little more breathing room.” The new Mallett School’s opening was scheduled for September 2010, but now has been moved to a June 2011 completion date.

The Mallett School project had just successfully completed a second straw poll, held on Sept. 18, at which architects discussed their plans for the school’s layout. It is due for review by a DOE subcommittee which Pratt believes will now be in November. Approval there will lead to a referendum vote, by the residents of Farmington, that was tentatively scheduled for Nov. 20, but has been moved to January.

The added benefit of the delay means more time for construction and the completion of the grounds over the summer of 2011. Before, the playing field were going to have to be constructed while the students were in school but now can be finished by the school’s September 2011 opening.

The Mt. Blue High School and Foster Regional Applied Technology Center renovation and addition construction project’s bond date was moved from spring 2010 to spring 2011.

The Mt. Blue High School project had quietly been proceeding to its first straw poll, a housekeeping measure asking residents if they thought the current campus should continue to be utilized. Cormier had noted at MSAD 9 board meetings that negotiations between the district and the DOE over how many square feet should be allotted to different school functions continued to be ongoing and it was assumed an extension of time would be needed to complete the planning process.

The bonding delay puts the schedule just where the planners want it, Pratt said. In all, the Department of Education is pushing back the date local school systems will be issued bonds for 12 major school construction projects in 11 school districts, by six to 12 months.

The state’s education Commissioner Susan A. Gendron said yesterday all of the projects set for bonding delays will result in moving about $9 million of bond payments from the 2010-11 two-year state budget to the following biennial budget. The nearly $5 million expected to be freed up from delayed construction bonding will go for general educational programming.

“The state had a very aggressive bonding schedule,” Pratt said.”Now it’s slowed down to a manageable schedule – times being what they are.”

An artist’s rendering of the proposed new pre-kindergarten through third grade Mallett school in Farmington..

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