2015-09-11 / Front Page

Arundel signs over elementary school

By Duke Harrington Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — Six years after joining RSU 21, the town of Arundel has formally signed over the Mildred L. Day Elementary School to the regional school unit.

Arundel selectmen signed a quitclaim deed on the 9.6-acre property at their Aug. 24 meeting.

Full ownership of the property was required in order for the school district to go out to bond for $8.6 million in repairs to the school, approved by voters in June as part of a $56.5 million district-wide school renovation package.

School Superintendent Katie Hawes said the RSU 21 board plans to sell the first $40 million in bonds in October, with the rest to follow next spring.

Construction of the new wing at MLD, to replace a section that has been slowly sinking into the ground, is expected to start in May and be complete by December 2016, she said. Other work already is underway using a state school revolving renovation fund.

Although Arundel selectmen signed the quitclaim deed at their Aug. 24 meeting, they made it clear they still expect to sign a formal memorandum of understanding governing use of the building by the town.

Hawes said the RSU’s attorneys were still hammering out details of that agreement, explaining her Aug. 20 letter to the board outlining the agreement. That letter seemed to cover the points of concern, Selectmen Thomas Danylik said, but “something more sustentative” and still needs to be signed to bind all parties.

“It’s not unusual for boards to disagree,” he said. “I would hate to see this building used as leverage.”

Hawes’ letter states that the town will continue to enjoy access to the MLD school “in the same manner that it currently does,” providing only that the town “follow our district processes and policies for facilities usage.”

Among other uses, selectmen hold their regular meetings in the MLD library.

“We believe the new library will be built before this one comes down, so you’ll probably just move over there,” Hawes said, when asked about contingencies during next year’s construction phase.

Meanwhile, the school has asked that it also be granted access to fields adjoining the school property, to be retained by the town, “in the same manner it currently does.”

Town Manager Keith Thefethen said the memorandum of understanding will also reassert an easement written into the quitclaim deed, which grants the town “a non-exclusive parking easement” on school property for town, community and recreation department events held on the fields.

According to Hawes, the town would still be allowed to use MLD if it is ever closed as a school, although rights of use could be terminated if the building is sold. However, she noted the town retains a right of first refusal on the building if the district ever does decide to sell.

“This is kind of the center of our town. I don’t want to see the school closed, ever,” Chairman Jason Nadeau said.

“I can’t imagine that happening with this new construction project,” Hawes said.

Return to top