SAD 41 weighs closing LaGrange school

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 19, 2010, at 9:28 p.m.

LaGRANGE, Maine — Faced with a projected $500,000 revenue loss, SAD 41 directors are contemplating the future of the Marion C. Cook Elementary School.

Directors will hold a special board meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, at the school to discuss the possible closing of the school, which has an enrollment of 48.

“It’s putting on the table, basically, something that [SAD 41 directors] talked about for the last couple of years,” SAD 41 Superintendent Mike Wright said Tuesday.

Directors plan to talk about, based on the district’s economic situation, whether to keep the school open, realign grades or close it, he said.

The district also operates elementary schools in Brownville and Milo, but those have much greater enrollments. Brownville, for example, has more than twice as many pupils, Wright said.

Wright said he is estimating revenues will be down $500,000 from this year. He said that’s because of a combination of factors, including state subsidy curtailments, a change in property valuations, and a looming penalty for not consolidating with another school district. In addition, the one-time award of federal stimulus funds the district received last year will not be there next year, he said.

“What we’re asking is, ‘Where are we going to make that up?’” Wright said of the shortfall. He estimated the district would have a saving of $250,000 if the LaGrange school is closed.

The LaGrange school is just part of the equation since the district still would need to find $250,000 more in savings, Wright said. He said the district would continue to talk with other districts about sharing services to save money. The district shares a curriculum coordinator with SAD 31 in Howland.

“We would take a close look at any positions here that we have that we could possibly combine with another districts,” he said.

Directors are working hard to reduce the budget, Wright said. “We know what the problems are, but the answers aren’t easy,” he said.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/01/19/news/sad-41-weighs-closing-lagrange-school/ printed on September 20, 2014