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UMA eyes MVHS for possible move
RUMFORD -- For a couple of years now, RSU 10 and the university system have been discussing the potential of siting the university system, Rumford/Mexico Center, at the Mountain Valley High School.
On Feb. 26, the opportunity for UMA leasing space at the high school came closer to reality as RSU 10 Supt. Tom Ward and Principal Matt Gilbert toured two areas at the high school with representatives from the University of Maine at Augusta.
They looked at two possible spaces -- one in the former industrial arts wing and the second in the guidance area.
"It was a very good tour. They seemed enthusiastic. It's a win-win situation for both. The big concern is the renovations and what that cost would be," noted Ward.
As far who would do the renovations, Ward said he hoped the majority of that would be beared by UMA, with assistance from RSU 10 personnel.
That would need to be worked out, as well as the lease, with the cost based on the amount of square footage. Negotiated as well would be the length of the lease and a percentage of utility costs that would be incurred by the university.
Ward said he and Gilbert met with UMA Director of Facilities Sheri Stevens and UMS South Paris Center Director Nikki Abbott.
He said RSU 10 should know whether the high school is accepted as part of the UMS by May 1. Between now and then, Ward said there will a couple more meetings to fine tune the proposal to be made to university supervisors.
With this move, Ward said online courses would be made available to students from all three RSU 10 high schools. "High school students would have better access to all university campuses, either in person or online. It would open up many possibilities."
Gilbert said 80 percent of high school seniors prepare for postsecondary education, but only 50 percent actually take the leap. Having some of the courses offered right on the high school campus could ease students into the college experience.
Gilbert said about a half-dozen MVHS students already take advantage of course offerings, tuition-free, at the Rumford/Mexico UMS Center because of the district’s Aspirations grant.
Students from the university already utilize the high school for its chemistry and biology labs.
Ward said, "We'd like to be able to offer fifth year for students. This would allow students to be better prepared for college, with necessary remedial courses and hopefully enough courses to take care of the first year towards an associate's degree."
The UMS has wanted to move out of the current college center on Brown Street in Mexico because more space is needed for the growing enrollment.
If the proposal is successful, Ward said the move will be completed in time for the start of the next school year. "We're heading in the right direction."