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Schools apply to state renovation fund for help with facilities projects

The School Department is applying for help in funding some of the projects identified in the 2019 school facilities needs assessment.

The School Board on Sept. 10, 2019 authorized the application for a no-interest loan and grant from the state's School Revolving Renovation Fund. As part of the grant, Cape Elizabeth would be eligible for forgiveness of 30 percent of the loan, School Business Manager Marcy Weeks told members of the board.

Projects that would qualify are air quality systems, roofing and possibly some Americans with Disabilities Act compliance projects, said school Superintendent Donna Wolfrom. "It will really help us address some of the projects that we need to work on that came up in the needs assessment," she said referring to a study completed by Colby Company, LLC Engineering & Design this summer.

Engineers who completed the study are working on the application, due Sept. 30.

The Maine Department of Education announced in July that it would accept applications for Renovation Revolving Fund Grants. "This is exciting because it's been a while since they opened this up," Weeks said. The last round of grants from the fund, established by the Legislature in 1998 to assist schools in maintaining facilities, were awarded in 2017.

School Board members were equally excited, and grateful for the support of the engineering team. "Part of the reason we are able to do the work, and get the applications done on time, is because we do have this needs assessment going and the work was already in motion with our engineering company," said board Vice Chair Heather Altenburg. "So it's super fortuitous, the timing of it."

Schools expect to be notified of the application results in November, Weeks said. Loans under $500,000 would need to be paid back in five years, and loans between $500,000 and $1 million have a 10-year pay-back period, she said. Construction of funded projects would need to be completed by July 1, 2021.

Volunteers needed for Building Committee

In a related matter, Wolfrom announced that the schools are looking for volunteers to serve on a Building Committee to review the findings of the facilities needs assessment and determine next steps. "If anyone in the community would like to serve on this committee they can call my office (207-799-2217) and give me their names or contact a school board member," she said.

The first meeting will be soon after the release of the needs assessment report, scheduled for Oct. 18, Wolfrom said.