The MSAD 15 School Board met on Sept. 17 and after much discussion, decided to split the $738,000 cost of an artificial turf field into a separate question. On Nov.4, voters in Gray and New Gloucester will be asked to weigh in on a referendum to bond “$ 6,623,080 for school construction, renovations, and improvements at existing District schools, including (i) a classroom addition to Gray-New Gloucester Middle School; and (ii) renovations and improvements to Gray-New Gloucester High School and to Gray-New Gloucester Middle School, including the school buildings, facilities, and athletic fields”. The second question will ask for the additional funds to upgrade the competition field to artificial turf if the first question passes.
On Sep. 23, Superintendent Beasley shared the projected cost to taxpayers for the bond if the referendum is approved. The figures he presented estimate an interest rate of three percent for a 20-year term, are based on the current municipal valuations from the State, and have been calculated for a home valued at $200,000. Beasley explained that the district is hoping to employ bond anticipation notes and time the project so that the first payments will fall in the second half of the 2017/2018 school year. In that first year, assuming both the facilities and artificial turf questions pass, the cost to New Gloucester and Gray residents respectively will be $28.31 and $25.52. 2018/2019 will see the first full year assessment and will cost New Gloucester and Gray homeowners$61.91 and $55.81 respectively. The Superintendant emphasized the fact that these numbers reflect net cost to the citizens because current debt service will be gradually reducing, and that the 2018/2019 fiscal year reflects the highest net cost and will continue to reduce as the two existing bonds are paid down and retired in fiscal years 2017/2018 and 2027/2028. As a point of reference, in the highest year, 2018/2019, the actual annual cost per household (not reflecting the existing debt reduction) in New Gloucester and Gray would be $105.99 and $95.55 respectively.
Beasley emphasized the importance of citizens learning all the facts regarding the questions, and noted, “I don’t want to tell people how to vote, I just want them to go to the polls with all the accurate information and make their voting decision based on those facts.”
In an effort to provide those facts, the district is conducting three public forums at which consultants Sevee and Mahar Engineers and Steven Blatt Architects will be present to provide information and answer questions. The forums which are all scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. will be held on Oct. 6 at the Memorial School Gymnasium; Oct. 14 at the High School Library; and Oct. 23 at the Middle School Gymnasium. Mark Curran from New England Turf is confirmed at the Oct. 14 and the Oct. 23 forums. The MSAD 15 website also has all the information posted at www.msad15.org.