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MSAD #33 Looks at Future of Wisdom School

Published: May. 25, 2022 at 7:59 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -

It’s been more than 10 months since the fire that claimed the Dr. Levesque Elementary School in Frenchville, and as the first school year since the fire comes to a close, Brian Bouchard sat down with MSAD 33 Superintendent Ben Sirois to get an update on the situation.

Last July, the Dr. Levesque Elementary School in Frenchville burnt down, leaving an entire district of Pre-K through 6 graders without a school to attend in the fall. The district quickly made room for the students in the Wisdom Middle/High School as a temporary solution.

“It was a lot to get things in order for the start of the school year, but Given the fact that from the day of the fire to the start of the school year we were able to clean out an entire area of the school, move in all these classrooms.”

Ben Sirois, Superintendent of MSAD 33 says although the move was unprecedented, the students were able to adjust, and overall the school year went well. Now the district has begun the process of looking towards the future.

“The school board is pretty much united in the fact that they want to explore whether or not they can secure a new school. They know that the process is going to be a long one. To get on a Major Capital improvement list, right now there’s over 70 schools on that list. Some have been on that list for 10, 15, 20 years.”

Sirois adds the Maine State Board of Education does have a rule regarding the approval of Emergency Projects, however the rule does not stipulate what exactly qualifies, that determination is up to the State Board of Education.

“So we’re trying to line our ducks in a row to be able to go to the state board and say “We’ve lost this school, yes, we’re all under one roof in our second school at Wisdom but Wisdom has some identified issues too, it’s not a new school, it’s an older school like Dr. Levesque” the board really wants the best education, the safest education for our students”

Recently Wisdom had a structural, electrical and fire assessment completed by a local engineering firm which identified issues that also plagued the Dr. Levesque School. With this in mind, the district is now at a cross roads of how to move forward.

“Either we’re going to have a new comprehensive school or we’re going to have to renovate and really restore our current Wisdom School. But I think from the boards perspective those students will probably always be under one roof, Pre-K to 12, its happening right now, it’s not perfect, but I think that would be the future given the enrollment numbers and the cost of maintaining the school moving forward.”

Sirois went on to say that either way, this will not be a quick process, but he hopes the public will show their support and provide input moving forward.

“Getting approval from that State Board is just one small step in the process, if that does get approved we’ve gotta go through the Major Capital improvement process which is going to take years of work. So the community will be part of this, they’re going to have voice in this process and we want this school, either the current school or the new school to be a school for the community.”

Sirois says the school board will be working through the summer, developing a proposal for the future of MSAD 33.

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