Board to weigh closure of Monson school

Posted Jan. 23, 2009, at 11:06 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11:03 a.m.

MONSON, Maine — The SAD 68 board of directors is expected to discuss the possible closure of the Monson Elementary School when it meets next month.

Superintendent Ann Bridge raised the subject with directors earlier this month and advised them the discussion is needed because of declining enrollment and shrinking state subsidy. The school serves 34 students, including two that tuition from Blanchard and six from Willimantic, according to Bridge.

“With what’s coming at us for budget reductions, I don’t see any way to avoid this discussion much longer,” Bridge said this week.

Directors had discussed closing the small school last year, but decided to take no action.

Bridge said she is compiling the necessary information about the operation of the school and its costs for presentation to the board at the 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, meeting at SeDoMoCha Middle School. She hopes action on the possible school closure could be taken later that month.

“We’re not hiding this. We want to discuss this fairly and openly,” Bridge said.

Early figures show the school’s operational costs are about $250,000 a year, excluding the cost of travel and time of district personnel from Dover-Foxcroft who serve the school, according to Bridge. She cautioned, however, that figure was an early estimate. The true cost will be compiled and presented at next month’s meeting, she said.

Regardless of whether the district votes to reorganize, the discussion has to take place, Bridge said. “When the state gets done [determining subsidy figures], we’re going to be out a very considerable amount of money,” she said.

From tentative figures supplied by the state, Bridge believes the district will have to cut between $300,000 and $500,000. “We just can’t go on doing that kind of cutting because last year we cut so heavily.”

If the board approves the school closing, residents will have the final say. If residents vote to keep the school open, the town will be required to pay certified costs beyond the local assessment, according to the superintendent. If residents vote to close the school, it will be closed for the next school year, Bridge said.

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