Residents weigh in on future of Rockland-area schools

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted May 17, 2013, at 9:55 a.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — Faced with increasing costs and declining enrollments, a blueprint for the future of Regional School Unit 13 is coming together.

Residents from Thomaston are encouraged to meet Sunday to discuss a possible reconfiguration of schools in the six-community district, made up of Rockland, Thomaston, St. George, South Thomaston, Owls Head and Cushing.

Arvilla Collins and Darryl Sanborn, who represent Thomaston on the RSU 13 Board, will moderate the discussions.

On Tuesday the board’s facilities and transportation committee will gather in Rockland to discuss the most efficient use of these school buildings.

At the first round of meetings on issues such as possible closures and consolidation, earlier this week in Owls Head, about 50 people proposed keeping both Owls Head Central School and the Gilford Butler School in South Thomaston open. The elementary schools might face a shutdown because of low enrollments and outmoded conditions. Gilford Butler, for example, is not fully handicapped accessible.

The school board earlier this year rejected a proposal by Superintendent Lew Collins to consolidate the district’s middle schools — Rockland District Middle School and Thomaston Grammar School — to save $500,000 annually.

Enrollment from the six communities has declined from 2,602 in 2001 to 2,068 last fall. Within four years, school officials say the district will lose 200 students.

Meetings are at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Lura Libby School in Thomaston, and 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, at the McLain School in Rockland.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/05/17/news/midcoast/residents-weigh-in-on-future-of-rockland-area-schools/ printed on September 19, 2014