Ambitious school facility capital bond is proposed for Friendship, Union, Waldoboro, Warren, Washington taxpayers

Mon, 10/23/2023 - 11:45am

    Regional School District 40, comprising K-12 public schools for students from Friendship, Union, Waldoboro, Warren and Washington, is asking voters Nov. 7 to approve an $81 million spending package. The funding would derive from a bond, although the district has cited the possibility of seeking state and federal grants to help with the cost.

    A public hearing on the bond is scheduled for Oct. 26 at Medomak Valley High School at 6 p.m.

    Projects included in the proposed funding package include MVHS renovations, such as a new $9 million front entry addition, and investing in energy efficiency upgrades and maintenance plans at all of six elementary, middle and high schools.

    Objectives laid out by the district are to improve air quality, meet water standards, electrical and plumbing codes, reduce electricity costs and improve building infrastructures.

    The project list includes resurfacing parking lots, building a bus garage, refurbishing the Central Office walking trail, bleacher and hoop repairs at Medomak Valley Middle School, and playground upgrades at Friendship Village School, Warren Community School, and Washington’s Prescott Memorial School.

    This year, enrollment across the RSU 40 district is approximately 1,800 students. The largest school is Medomak Valley High School with 550 students, followed by Medomak Middle School with 273 students. Each town in RSU 40 has its own elementary school.

    The financial structure of the bond proposes a 25-year bond with an estimated 4.6 percent interest rate, taking the final cost to approximately $130 million. (See the estimated payments here)

    In the graphic below, RSU 40 has estimated local tax increases associated with the bond for each $100,000 of property valuation for each of the first seven years of the 25-year life of the bond. Updated estimates were provided at the October 5 School Board Meeting are presented below and are available by clicking here 


    The tax burden is proportional to each town’s student population. As an example, in fiscal year 2029-2030, a property owner with a home in Friendship assessed at $300,000 will pay $678 to help pay off the loan in that year. The same home valuation in Warren will pay $1,131 to service the bond in that year.  

    In August and September 2023, school board representatives presented the plans to each RSU 40 town’s Select Board. Select Board members and residents in Warren and Waldoboro voiced concerns about the bond at recent respective meetings.

    According to the Sept. 5 minutes of the Waldoboro Select Board meeting, Select Board Member Michael Thayer questioned whether the “extra space” requested for Miller School and MVHS were necessary.

    Board member John Blodgett said there were “many unanswered questions,” and Board member Robert Butler described the requested package as a “wish list”. 

    Board member Abden Simmons voiced agreement with the concerns.

    The next evening, the Warren Select Board voiced similar concerns with the proposed bond.

    Select Board Member Jan MacDonald said the request is a “huge wish list” and asked if teachers had input in this budget. 

    Select Board Chair John Crabtree said the tax increase would “be a hard pill to swallow for most residents.” 

    Resident Ed Laflamme said, “a 25-year load for paving the parking lots when they will need to be paved up to two times before the loan will be even paid off is ridiculous.” 

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