New Boiler Being Installed, Next Budget Approved, and Construction Project Presentation Scheduled For Town Council Meeting Tonight
BAR HARBOR—The Bar Harbor School Committee has a new vice chair. Marie Yarborough was elected to the position at the committee’s December 5 meeting. Yarborough replaces Dwayne Bolt who resigned last month stating that personal and professional obligations made the position untenable.
Misha Mytar was appointed by the board to replace Bolt, however, someone had to be appointed to vice chair. Yarborough has been a school advocate and committee member. The co-owner of Ciao food + drink, she and her husband have two children in the school system. She organizes the Ledgelawn candy donations each Halloween and also advocated for a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Ledgelawn Avenue and Park Street. She was appointed to the committee in 2016 after Melisa Rowland resigned. Yarborough is the curator of cultural resources and interpretation at Acadia National Park.
Mytar had to resign as the vice chair of the Comprehensive Plan Committee to serve on the school committee due to the town code, which states that “except where clearly authorized by law, or pursuant to an agreement under the Interlocal Cooperation Act, no School Committee Member shall hold any other Town office or Town employment while serving as a School Committee Member.”
BOILER UPDATE AND SCHOOL REBUILD PROJECT
School Committee Chair Alexandra (Lilea) Simis said that the school’s broken boiler’s replacement is being installed and the estimated cost for the boiler and installation is $153,000. The boiler broke earlier this year and is one of two that heats the buildings. The buildings themselves lack insulation and the committee is working towards making them safer for children and staff.
Lisa Sawin from Harriman (engineering firm) will present the school’s building project and needs to the Town Council at its 6:30 p.m. meeting at Council Chambers in the Municipal Building, tonight, December 6. The public is encouraged to attend or watch virtually.
The problem facing the school committee and the taxpayers is what to do when expensive and necessary parts of the buildings and their systems break when the building itself needs to be overhauled, committee members said. The boilers are perfect examples of that especially if the town is working toward greener options by 2030.
According to the Bar Harbor Existing Conditions Report released in October 2022,
“The Conners-Emerson School is composed of two buildings, the Connors building constructed in 1952 and the Emerson building constructed in 1962. Grades K-4 are currently in the Conners building and grades 5-8 are in the Emerson building. Over the last 20 years, many renovations have taken place on these structures. The gym floor, bleachers, and the library floor were replaced, the ceiling in the Conners building main hallway was replaced, the kitchen freezer was replaced, major roofing projects were completed for both buildings, floor tiles in the Conners building were replaced, the addition of student storage units in both the Conners and Emerson buildings, a handicap lift with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant ramp was replaced in the Emerson building, and the addition of an ADA ramp to the top entrance of the Conners-Emerson office was completed. However, there is still a great deal of deferred maintenance that needs to be addressed.
“A 2018 study revealed that a minimum of $9 million would be needed just to complete the necessary repairs over a five to ten-year period. After this information became public some expressed support for the school to be upgraded to keep the students close to home, others expressed concern that with decreasing school enrollments, efforts should be made to combine resources and have the children attend school in another community. It has been suggested that such a scenario could be limited to one segment of the K-8 student population or could include the entire student population. Given the needs of these facilities a decision was made and the town voted to fund a $3 million bond to complete a study and design detailing the upgrade of the school building infrastructure. This is based on the idea of demolishing the Conners building, and renovating and adding on to the Emerson building. The estimated cost of such a project before the COVID-19 pandemic was approximately $40 million.”
Members of the Warrant Committee, Town Manager Kevin Sutherland, and the Communications Director Maya Caines joined the committee’s meeting to go over the school budget. According to Simis, “Heather Webster went through the budget thoroughly. The biggest changes are the inclusion of one more regular ed tech position as well as a RTI/behavior specialist.”
The School Committee passed a proposed budget at its meeting. Voters will have to approve or reject that budget in June. We’ll run an updated story with numbers soon.
TO LEARN MORE
For information on the Bar Harbor School Committee, click here.
For information on the Conners Emerson Building For Our Future project, click here.
TO LIVESTREAM THE COUNCIL MEETING.
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