Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 7, 2023
CSD 13 receives school safety grant
Donations received, more money on the way
According to School Union 76 Superintendent Dan Ross, the Deer Isle-Stonington High School roof is one of the top priorities for building maintenance funded by state and federal grants.
by Will Robinson
In a unanimous vote, the Community School District 13 School Board accepted a $250,000 “Stronger Connections” grant from the Maine Department of Education at its September 5 meeting. According to Superintendent Dan Ross, the money will go directly towards improving the critical safety infrastructure at both Island schools.
“This ticks a lot of the boxes the community wanted to see from the forums in the spring,” Ross said.
The grant was sought out by CSD 13 Grant Consultant Lynne Witham. Although she wasn’t at the meeting, Ross told the board that Witham immediately got to work finding grant money after the public input sessions in April and May.
“I really would like to thank Lynne Witham for spearheading this grant proposal,” Ross said.
As part of applying for the $250,000, Ross said the district submitted a precise proposal for how it’ll be spent. New locks on doors, fire alarm updates and improvements, new telephone systems and “student behavioral tracking” were all on Ross’ grant wish list.
After the board voted to accept the money, Ross said the last step is to “finalize our proposal list to dollars and cents,” and finish any leftover paperwork with the Maine Department of Education.
Money, money, money
The “Stronger Connections” grant is just one in a series of grants and donations awarded to the Island schools in recent months.
At the meeting, the board also accepted a $5,000 outdoor activities grant from the nonprofit WinterKids for the Mariners Soar! After-School Program and $2,300 from Percy L. Brown & Son, Inc. plumbing and heating for a new basketball hoop.
At its August 1 meeting, the board accepted a $10,000 donation from the Damon family of Damon Family Lobster for new security cameras at Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School. It also took in $5,700 from the nonprofit Full Plates Full Potential for the food service program.
Thanks to the work of DISES school nurse Christine Saunders, the Island Health & Wellness Foundation awarded CSD 13 a $7,000 grant to pay for the upcoming Rachel’s Challenge program on September 12 and 13.
Additionally, the district has applied for a $250,000 “Community Connections” grant which, if awarded, would fund further improvements to safety infrastructure.
Roof money from the state
The newly formed building maintenance committee, made up of board members, both school principals, both town managers and the superintendent, is also in the process of writing grants. In a building maintenance update, Ross said the highest priority projects are the more costly roof replacements.
To offset the cost of fixing up the aging buildings, Ross explained that the maintenance committee is looking toward the state’s Revolving Renovations Fund. The fund, a partnership between the MDOE and Maine Municipal Bond Bank, provides no-interest loans and grants to schools for specific building projects, capped at $2 million dollars.
“Any projects that may fall within the Revolving Renovations Fund’s scope we should submit,” Ross said.
Funding from state, federal and local institutions, he added, is how the projects get done without “significant impact” to the normal budget.