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The 11 potential sites revealed for the proposed Valley Unified regional school

MADAWASKA, Maine — After heated discussions during the last Valley Unified Site Selection Committee meeting June 18 forced the hand of the engineering firm to narrow down approximately 40 potential sites to 11, WBRC out of Bangor will review the remaining potential sites with the Site Selection Committee at 4 p.m. on July 16 in the Madawaska Middle High School library. 

This meeting will be held exactly one week after a Valley Unified public information session in the same location in Madawaska at 6 p.m. on July 9, and an information session at 6 p.m. July 10, at the St. John Valley Tech Center in Frenchville.  

Administrators and school board members from Madawaska School Department and SADs 27 and 33 in the Fort Kent and Frenchville areas have been working together for about three years now to combine resources and save money in an effort to address declining enrollments and rising costs in education.

Last year, the state authorized funding the Valley Unified effort up to $100 million for a new St. John Valley educational facility that would replace three high schools and serve students from Grand Isle to Allagash.

Joined under the umbrella of the Valley Unified Regional Service Center, the three school administrative units, or SAUs, continue to move ahead with the site selection and design process. Residents of the member communities will need to vote to approve the final project, and the Maine Department of Education will need to OK plans moving forward.

In March, the Valley Unified board voted to select WBRC Architects and Engineers of Bangor upon recommendation by the Site Selection Committee of 17 after conducting a series of interviews.

During the May 14 meeting, Ray Bolduc from WBRC Architects/Engineers reviewed the site selection criteria matrix that each member of the Site Selection Committee will use to rate potential sites. With more than 40 sites to review, the criteria matrix took into account things such as impact on wetlands, drainage, adjacent land use, offsite, sidewalks, the site’s history, transportation miles, the lot size, high performance school site and safety.

During the committee’s June 18 meeting, Paul Cyr made a motion to direct the Valley Unified Board of Directors to cease consideration of all sites in Madawaska, all sites in Fort Kent, except the one on the border of Frenchville, and all sites in Frenchville and St. Agatha except those located to the east and west of, and including, the St. John Valley Technology Center. 

The motion failed with a vote of 9-4. 

According to the official meeting notice for the upcoming meeting, “the purpose of the meeting is for WBRC Architects/Engineers to update committee members on progress made to date with Phase I — Site Selection Services — especially their review of 11 potential sites selected for further review by the Site Selection Committee at their June 18 meeting.” 

During that time, WBRC is expected to review their findings in regards to the criteria matrix agreed upon by the Site Selection Committee and discuss the narrowed 11 sites. 

Those 11 sites are visible as the circled sites in the photo. 

“The Valley Unified Board of Directors and Administrative Team are committed to educating

the public regarding our vision for education and the proposed Regional Integrated,

Comprehensive Educational Facility for the Upper St. John Valley,” the notice on the public information sessions says.

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