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Decision soon on possible UMA move
RUMFORD -- At the start of a workshop held on April 2, RSU 10 board members parts of Mountain Valley High School that is not being utilized presently.
These are also areas that could be used if the university system, Rumford/Mexico Center, decides to lease space there. The college is presently located on Brown Street in Mexico, but more space is needed for their growing enrollment. Supt. Tom Ward said RSU 10 should know whether the high school is accepted as part of the UMS by May 1.
MVHS Principal Matt Gilbert conducted the door. Among the spaces that would be used by the college are the offices of the school nurse and counselors, and the area near the guidance conference room. The college would also occupy the two small rooms off the high school library.
A separate entrance on the left rear side of the school would be used by college students, since the rooms near that entrance would be blocked off from the rest of the school. The current occupants would be moved to other unused or underused areas.
The parking lot just outside the potential college entrance would be used by only college students.
Among the classrooms which would be acquired by the college is a room so interactive courses could be broadcast to the other two RSU 10 high schools in Dixfield and Buckfield. Other classrooms include the senior lounge and a lecture hall, which Gilbert said is more suited to college lectures than to high school classes.
The college has been using two high school laboratories for its science courses two nights a week for several years. Under a potential agreement, the college would continue to use those spaces, but only after high school classes are done for the day.
Gilbert said the college uses its own paper, chemicals and other materials for the college-level classes.
If the college should decide to move into the school, the district would also benefit from more revenue.
Back on Feb. 26, Ward said representatives from the college have toured the school. He said he and Gilbert met with UMA Director of Facilities Sheri Stevens and UMS South Paris Center Director Nikki Abbott.
"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, he 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 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.
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."
If the proposal is successful, Ward said the move will be completed in time for the start of the next school year.