November 8th, 2023
Dear Brooklin Parents and Community,
By now, you have likely heard that there will be an upcoming vote to approve a building renovation project for the Brooklin Elementary School this coming December 19th. The cost of this project is approximately $4.4 million, and includes upgrades for heating, lighting, ventilation, and insulation, among others. I am writing to kindly ask for your support for this project as an integral piece of keeping local education in the Town of Brooklin a possibility for your children.
I apologize in advance for a lengthy letter, but given the importance of this project to the needs of school children in your town, I ask you to give it your best consideration.
This building renovation project began even before my hire as Superintendent for School Union 76. However, on my first day, during a tour of the school, it quickly became apparent that the Brooklin Elementary School needed significant renovation, and I was later relieved to find that a committee (consisting of local elected officials, community members, parents, and staff) had already been formed and was working to address this significant problem.
If someone asked me that first day what my immediate source of concern was for the building, it would be the heating system, and that has not changed a year later. Unfortunately, since heat is an essential system, it is also a matter that could affect whether or not the school can remain open when it eventually breaks. In such a situation, we won’t be able to simply patch it anymore – the system is original to the building, and it will need to be replaced entirely. When that happens, Brooklin students will become Sedgwick or Deer Isle-Stonington students for however long it would take until the school can reopen. And that is not all…
If the heating system were to break beyond repair, we don’t have enough money in the budget to cover the cost of replacing it. The only way to raise money for the repairs at that point is to come back to the taxpayers and ask for it. As you might expect, your local School Board and I are desperately trying to avoid such a situation, for the good of the children of your community AND the local taxpayers.
Some key points to consider:
- The cost of the project represents approximately 1% of your total local valuation. At the time of this letter, the Town of Brooklin carries no other significant debt.
- Not just current students will benefit from this renovation project as some have assumed, but in reality it will benefit all students enrolled in Brooklin over the repayment of the bond, which is the next 15 years. This doesn’t mean dozens of students (as some have assumed), but rather hundreds.
- The project cost represents slightly less than ½ of a mil increase for a $250,000 property, and approximately 1 mil increase for a $500,000 property. This accounts for any interest accrued on the bond repayment as well.
- The timeline for the project has it starting the day after students leave this Summer (2024), and it will be finished by the time they come back in the Fall.
- The project itself includes key upgrades to the electrical system, and replacing portions of the roof which are original to the building (circa late 1990’s!). These upgrades will allow the town to install a solar array in an effort to help offset local electrical costs to the entire community.
- The switch to electric heat (via heat pumps) as a primary heating source will, over time, represent an energy savings to the school, and helps diversify energy consumption in the building in a more environmentally friendly manner.
There are many more needed improvements embedded in this project, which I look forward to discussing with you over the coming months; I have only listed a sample here. The School Board and I will be hosting a public hearing to discuss the details of the project with the community in November, and there will be a number of information sessions and mailers for the community in the meantime.0
Our goal is to be as transparent about the costs and benefits of this project with you to the utmost extent possible, and we will be back in touch with you soon. Your consideration is appreciated.
Dan Ross, Superintendent, School Union 76