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10/23/2013 2:00:00 PM
RSU 40 Board Looking to Fund $2.2 Million of Facility Improvements

By Dominik Lobkowicz

They have not approved the project as yet, but the RSU 40 Board of Directors unanimously authorized applying for a federally-subsidized bond to fund $2.2 million of improvements to the district's schools at their Oct. 17 meeting.

"Sooner or later we're going to have to do everything in this energy audit," said Maggie Massengale, a Warren board member on the district's facilities-transporation committee.

The improvements are primarily focused on energy conservation, including retro-fitting selected lighting fixtures, sealing and insulating, and replacement of various heating, refrigerating, and ventilating equipment. The project is also proposed to include the replacement of the Warren Community School roof.

If the bond - a Qualified Zone Academy Bond, or QZAB - is approved, federal tax credits to the bond holder would be approximately equal to the interest on the bond, making the district generally responsible for repaying only the principal, according to documentation provided by the district.

RSU 40 qualifies for the QZAB program because of the number of free and reduced lunch students and the type of the project, said Business Manager Karla Miller.

Miller said her understanding is no one has applied for Maine's share of the QZAB program in the 2013-2014 school year, so the district may be in a good position to have the project fully funded.

If the district does not receive approval for a QZAB, it could try applying for a municipal bond from the Maine Municipal Bond Bank, Miller said.

The district did a request for proposal on an energy audit of the district to which six companies responded and four were interviewed, Miller said. Siemens Industry, Inc. was selected after a review of their qualifications, company processes, and references, she said.

Miller said several other school systems which had worked with Siemens were contacted as references, and Siemens was reported to have completed projects ahead of their time schedule and savings went beyond their estimates.

Siemens was selected because it guarantees its savings estimates for 15 years and because of the likelihood it will still be in business down the road, Superintendent Michael Cormier said.

In a year where the district saves money beyond what Siemens estimated, the district keeps those savings, Massengale said. "That's the best part about this," she said.

The savings estimates are usually conservative and offset the cost of the bond payments, Cormier said. As such, the highest amount the district is expected to pay above current costs is around $20,000 in year six or seven of the 15-20 year bond repayment, he said.

RSU 40 Board of Directors Chair Danny Jackson (left) and Superintendent Michael Cormier (not pictured) presented awards on behalf of the district honoring recent retirees. Present to receive their awards were (from left) Ingrid Grierson, Robert Littlehale, Susan Campagna, and Cynthia Wallace. (D. Lobkowicz photo)
RSU 40 Board of Directors Chair Danny Jackson (left) and Superintendent Michael Cormier (not pictured) presented awards on behalf of the district honoring recent retirees. Present to receive their awards were (from left) Ingrid Grierson, Robert Littlehale, Susan Campagna, and Cynthia Wallace. (D. Lobkowicz photo)
 
In other business, Cormier and board Chair Danny Jackson presented awards to recent retirees on behalf of the district thanking them for their service and dedication.

"It's been a wonderful 44 years," said honoree Robert Littlehale.

Cynthia Wallace, a 30 year district employee, said being out of the classroom for a couple of months has helped her appreciate how much she misses it.

"When you are in the company of children for so many years, it is a blessing," Wallace said.

Other former employees recognized, though not all were in attendance, were: Sybil Wentworth, 27 years; Ellen Jameson, 23 years; Susan Campagna, 28 years; Joyce Davidson, 11 years; Ingrid Grierson, 15 years; Benjamin Vail, 10 years; Peggy Lincoln, 18 years; Gail Whittier, 47 years; Richard Blackman, 14 years.




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