Islesboro Central School and the Islesboro island community will celebrate the successful renovation and expansion of its K-12 school building and gymnasium at a ribbon-cutting ceremony and picnic Saturday, July 31, at 11 a.m.

The event culminates a multi-year planning effort that included a full review of both the school’s program and its physical facilities. After extensive engineering and architectural studies, a decision was taken by the Islesboro School Board to modernize the large stone building, built in 1928 as a private home, that has housed the school since the 1950s. A gymnasium was added in 1985. School Board Chairman Rick Rogers commented, “The great majority of the community wanted to keep this beautiful mansion, and we were able to add important new features within a budget that was less than the cost of a new building.”

In 2007, the school board retained Stephen Blatt Architects of Portland to prepare plans for the buildings and grounds. The preliminary concept was presented to the community in 2008, and in October of that year Islesboro residents approved an $8 million bond issue to finance the proposed work, with the condition that $4 million of the repayment of the bond would be raised privately.

According to School Superintendent Tom Comiciotto, the contractor, Ledgewood Construction Company of South Portland, will complete the renovation and expansion by July 31, “on time, on budget, and with great efficiency.” He added, “Ledgewood maintained a friendly cooperation with the school throughout the construction, even as the school continued to operate on the site in temporary buildings. Both Stephen Blatt Architects and Ledgewood did a magnificent job.”

A campaign to raise the $4 million required by the bond was launched in 2008, and the goal was reached at the end of June 2010. Linda Gillies, chair of the fundraising committee, said, “Two hundred year-round citizens and 200 seasonal residents contributed enthusiastically to this effort, including every student and faculty and staff member. Islesboro is a generous community that has a real commitment to its K-12 school.”

ICS Principal Heather Knight will lead the July 31st celebration, which will include brief remarks, a ribbon-cutting by the youngest student and the oldest student, tours of the new school and a gala barbecue picnic. She said, “All are welcome!”