2014-05-30 / Letters

Schools in dire need of safety repairs to protect students

To the editor:

Recently I attended the RSU 21 district budget meeting and stayed after to hear an informal discussion on the state’s Revolving Renovation Fund and what it means for our schools. I have three children in three different schools and always take for granted that the buildings are safe — and I don’t just mean buzzers at the front door and ID badges for visitors.

I have always assumed, as I’m sure you have, that sprinkler systems and other fire safety needs are updated and maintained in all of our schools, just as they are in any business I have worked in. Seems like a no-brainer to me but I was wrong.

Kennebunkport Consolidated School and Mildred L. Day both need sprinkler systems. Additionally, we have wings in Kennebunk High School that need fire-rated interior doors and hardware, as well as an upgrade to the fire alarm system. (A document entitled Revolving Renovation Fund Projects can be acquired from the board with more details.)

These repairs are not about the $75 million renovation budget that was voted down in January. I am not talking turf fields and theater seating, but the nitty gritty items we always seem to say, “Why can’t the school board focus on what truly needs to be done!” Well, they are doing just that and are trying to get the funding necessary to begin these improvements.

A document from the public hearing last night highlights: “State Revolving Renovation Fund {SRRF} is a special fund created by the State to fund high-priority school renovation projects in the areas of life safety, ADA compliance, hazardous materials removal, structural roof replacement and indoor air quality.” “RSU21 filed eight applications…and six applications were approved for funding.” The money RSU21 would receive from the state for the repairs listed below is as follows:

$1,259,595: This will be repaid without interest over a ten-year period

$539,826: This will be in the form of a grant from the state Revolving Renovation Fund

In short, if we do not vote in favor of accepting these funds (i.e. “use it”) and move forward with necessary maintenance for the RSU infrastructure, then plainly put, we “lose it” - and our students and children may lose a great deal more without those essential safety measures in place. On June 10th the vote for me is simple, accept the SRRF Funds and make some long overdue safety repairs.

Julie Bennett
Kennebunk

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