EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Grade schoolers attending the elementary school program at Schenck High School will have playground equipment to play on, town leaders said Thursday.
The East Millinocket School Committee voted 4-0 to seek as much as $20,000 from the school system’s buildings and equipment capital reserve fund and the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously on Monday to make the appropriation, school officials said.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Mark Scally said the committee had picked out equipment and would order it.
As a high school, Schenck doesn’t have playground swings and slides, but it will need them. The School Committee voted 5-0 in April to close the Opal Myrick School, citing the closure of the paper mill on Main Street and an anticipated massive revaluation of the mill that would occur even if the mill were revitalized.
Though Opal Myrick is a lovely building, Superintendent Quenten Clark estimated that its closure would save $150,000 in operational costs alone. He listed several problems with the building that make it costly to run or renovate, including asbestos floor tiles, a lack of disability access and an aging heating system that consumed about 16,000 gallons of heating oil.
Closing the school, Clark has said, likely would preserve teaching positions and programs while addressing the enrollment decline that has almost halved the student population over the last 10 years.
Under Clark’s proposal, Myrick will close by Sept. 1 and its kindergarten to fourth-grade pupils would attend Schenck, which would be remodeled to accommodate the Myrick pupils. Medway Middle School would continue to accept pupils in grades five to eight. The remodeling would reduce but not eliminate the commingling of the Schenck and Myrick students, he said.
Scally, who was among selectmen to tour the school before Monday’s meeting, said the refit wing of Schenck where the grade schoolers would work was coming along well.
Volunteers and schoolteachers, all working unpaid, have been moving into their new home this week after doing a lot of prep work in the weeks previous.
“A lot of the grunt work has been done. … They are nice classrooms,” Scally said Thursday. “I don’t see any problem there whatsoever. If anything, it will just take an adjustment.”