Dike Newell Principal Jennifer McKay stands at the entrance of the alternate school location. Maria Skillings / The Times Record

Bath educators, administrators, contractors and volunteers have worked all summer preparing the former Bath Regional Career and Technical Center for displaced Dike Newell Elementary School students, following a devastating June fire.

An alleged arsonist set the fire, according to police, causing enough damage that district administrators were forced to hustle to find a new location to teach their students.

Principal Jennifer McKay said her staff has remained positive throughout the transition and has been working hard.

“There is more cleaning and sorting to do, but we are getting closer every day,” McKay said. “From retired teachers to school counselors, the amount of help has been outstanding.”

Regional School Unit 1 made several upgrades to the former technical center — replacing security systems, phone and internet services, plumbing, heating, alarm systems, and upgrading classroom technology such as tablets and projectors.

McKay said contractors have added walls to create more classrooms and have lowered toilets and sinks to accommodate the shorter elementary students.


During a tour of the alternate school on Wednesday, Superintendent Patrick Manuel said all pre-K and kindergarten classrooms will be on the first floor, while first- and second-grade classrooms will be on the second floor.

The Dike Newell library was deemed a total loss in the fire, but thanks to community book donations, the elementary school has rebuilt its collection. There will be a separate room for book storage at the technical center for the librarian’s use, but Manuel said the librarian will most likely visit the students in their classrooms.

One econd-floor classroom is decorated with a farm theme, including alarge rug mimicking grass and a friendly cow sticker on the window. Maria Skillings / The Times Record

Books for Dike Newell students are displayed at the new location. Maria Skillings / The Times Record

Contractors are still finishing updates to the cafeteria at the technical center, but Manuel said the kitchen is not functional at this time. Since the fire left the cooking equipment at Dike Newell unscathed, lunchroom staff will prepare student meals at the old school and transport them to the technical center.

A new fence has been installed surrounding the playground area and will be filled in with mulch once the playground structure is complete.

Dike Newell students will resume classes on Sept. 6.

RSU 1 administrators are tossing ideas around regarding Dike Newell’s future, as they await a final damage report from their insurance company.

Students and parents will have the chance to tour the improved technical school at an open house on Sept. 1.

“We want to give families an opportunity to see what the space looks like, to help ease the transition,” McKay said.

The music room is stocked with instruments for students. Maria Skillings / The Times Record

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