School’s reopening possible

Posted March 17, 2010, at 9:58 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:03 p.m.

ROCKWOOD, Maine — With the expectation of at least 10 pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children in Rockwood next year, state Department of Education officials acknowledged Wednesday they are considering reopening the Rockwood Elementary School next fall.

The new school, constructed in 1991, was closed temporarily in June 2009 after a year of serving only two children in kindergarten through grade five at an annual operating cost of about $150,000.

At the time of the closing, Department of Education Commissioner Susan Gendron said the school would not be sold because there were a number of preschoolers in the community, which could necessitate its reopening. She also noted at the time that there was no way of knowing what if any impact the proposed Plum Creek development would have on the remote area. She told parents then that the state would revisit the enrollment in the spring.

And that’s what is being done now, Shelley Lane, the Unorganized Territory’s school superintendent, said Wednesday. Lane said she’s been told by a parent in Rockwood that there are about 10 children of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten age.

Currently, 16 pupils from Rockwood attend Greenville schools, and of those nine are in kindergarten through eighth grade, Heather Perry, Union 60 superintendent, said Wednesday. Perry said the first she had heard about the possible reopening of the school was when Gendron mentioned it at a recent charter school hearing.

Gendron said Wednesday she knew there were a number of preschoolers in the area and parents of those children were told that when there was a sufficient number of them eligible to attend, the state would reopen the school.

“Based on a contact from families, and we’re going to verify this, we were told there were 10 children,” Gendron said. “We will do an enrollment, a registration, to verify the number of children and the superintendent will determine the staffing that will be needed to accommodate the children.”

Gendron said Lane’s concern was she needed “to start the preparations to open the school [in the event the numbers were correct] and I gave her the green light to do so.”

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