Maria Libby on middle school project planning and Mary E. Taylor School

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 4:30pm

I wanted to take a moment to publicly thank the residents of Camden and Rockport for supporting the middle school bond. The new school will serve our children for many generations to come – it is truly an investment in the health and vitality of our two towns. Our communities have long supported education and the board and staff certainly appreciate the overwhelming support demonstrated on June 13. We know it is a lot to ask, but we firmly believed it was the most economically prudent option, and we thank you for your support.

Although the defeat at the polls in 2015 was disappointing, it gave us an opportunity to significantly improve communication and community involvement in the project. We valued the many voices we heard.

We have a strong sense of the concerns that exist such as making sure we give due consideration to the calls to preserve the Mary E. Taylor (MET) building, making sure we build an energy efficient building, and making sure that we get the most out of the money that we spend on the new facility.

We will form a new building committee to advise the board on the next phase of the project and I anticipate those meetings will be held in the Town of Camden's Washington Street conference room so they can be viewed via local cable television and the internet.

In addition, we will hold additional public forums and create subcommittees for specific aspects of the project (e.g. energy, playground). We realize we won't be able to accommodate every individual's preferences in the design and build process, but we will listen and meet community needs as best as we can.

On that note, the board is having a special meeting on Thursday, July 13, at 6pm in the CRMS cafeteria to further consider the future of the MET building.

If you are interested in that discussion, I urge you to attend. Under consideration will be the needs of the district, the needs of the new project, the historic nature of the building, costs of saving it (monetary and otherwise), the potential of town ownership, the potential of private ownership, and the timeframe for decision-making. We do know that any option other than the originally planned and approved demolition will require another vote.

Finally, while the most heartfelt gratitude goes out to the community whose affirmative vote enabled this project to move forward, I would be remiss not to thank the countless others, from dedicated board members to the incredibly committed young parents who eventually provided most of the energy to bring this project to the forefront of conversation in the community. I can't name you all, but there were many who were instrumental in this endeavor. It truly took a team effort. Thank you. The school district will do our communities proud.

Maria Libby is superintendent of schools for SAD 28 and the Five Town CSD