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Updated: June 3, 2024

Saco voters to decide on $101M bond for school construction

This rendering shows multiple school buildings proposed to be built in Saco. Rendering / Courtesy Oak Point Associates Seen here is a screenshot from a video rendering of the proposed project.

The Saco City Council approved a referendum question, earlier this month, that asks voters to decide on a bond that would allow Saco to benefit from $101 million in state funding pay for long-delayed school construction and to help consolidate school infrastructure.

Question 2 received unanimous council approval to place the question on the June 11 ballot.

Councilors said Saco has been trying for more than 20 years to move forward with modernization that they said is badly needed.

“Half my lifetime I’ve spent waiting for some kind of solution,” said Councilor Nathan Johnston.

Saco’s share of the total project cost is 28%, about $39 million. 

“In the weeks ahead we will conduct outreach and provide thorough information so that residents can make their own informed decisions,” said Margaret Parkhurst, the school district’s assistant superintendent.

The concept and budget were approved by the State Board of Education in April.

The proposed plan will create two schools on a site located on Route 1 North, off Mill Brook Road. The proposal is for one building to house pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs and another for grades 1-5. 

The city engaged Oak Point Associates, a consultant with offices in Biddeford and New Hampshire, for the planning and design process.

The project would consolidate four elementary schools into one comprehensive campus, including the replacement of modular buildings that comprise one of the school that has ranked fourth on the Maine Department of Education’s Major Capital School Construction list since 2018; and would address challenges caused by aging facilities and inadequate learning environments.

According to city documents, the selected site has the potential to integrate outdoor learning, enhance educational experiences and foster an efficient, collaborative learning community, streamline resources and improve Saco’s educational landscape for future generation.

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