Valley Unified Regional High School a step closer to reality

Now that the Maine State Board of Education has approved the Valley Unified Regional High School's proposal, officials are looking to the future. Kathy McCarty met with the Superintendent of MSAD 33 to find out what comes next.

Superintendents in The Valley learned by email Tuesday that a $100 million dollar regional high school there has state approval. Lisa Bernier, Frenchville's superintendent, Ben Sirois of Fort Kent, and Gisele Dionne of Madawaska were in Augusta Thursday to discuss the next steps in the process.

"We're meeting with Scott Brown, who's in charge of construction, to discuss what we do next and how we move forward."

She says next will be finding a site, that will then be recommended to the state.

"I think that will be the biggest bump in the road. And there will be a committee to suggest sites and those will be sent to the Department of Education and they are the ultimate decision-making entity. They will decide where the school is going to be."

Bernier, Sirois and Dionne have visited other regional schools. Bernier says what can be offered in programming at such facilities is amazing.

"You can only envision once you see, so we're hoping that we can get a group of people that want to visit schools to visit schools in Maine. Just Hampden Academy in Hampden is amazing. So what we can offer our students collectively is so much more. Not that we're not doing a good job now, but with declining enrollment, it's just getting harder and harder."

Ultimately, it's still up to the voters. Each community can say no to the project, but she hopes they'll see it as an investment benefitting the children of The Valley - an investment not dependent on taxes.

"This school is 100 percent funded by the state of Maine - a hundred percent funded it is. So it's not going to cost taxpayers anything unless we would choose to have it built bigger than the state recommends."

In Augusta, the superintendents began discussing what the structure will house and dimensions needed to accommodate grades 9 through 16, including space for technical training.