January 19, 2019
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District considers closing Maine school due to lack of students

An elementary school in Randolph could soon be closed.

School officials blame low enrollment, but parents are hoping to voice their concerns at a meeting Tuesday night.

Right now, there are only 41 students enrolled at the Theresa C. Hamlin School. Officials say that’s hindering the students’ education, but parents say losing the school will hurt their entire community.

The Maine School Administrative District 11 School Board says a committee recommended to them that the school should be closed.

It’s been a discussion for years, but with a declining student body, officials say they’ve had to combine classes and grades.

“It’s very hard. It’s a hard decision to make,” said MSAD 11 board member Rebecca Fles, who added that “it’s not in the best interest of students to learn that way (in combined grades).”

While it’s not official yet, parents say there hasn’t been enough public input.

If the school were to close, the 41 students would be transferred to the school in Pittston, where new modular classrooms are being built.

“It was pretty much set in stone that we’re going to go through this ad hoc committee and close TC Hamlin,” said local parent David Cobb. “They’re going to take a somewhat crowded school, overcrowd it (and) put a modular behind it.”

If the board chooses to close TC Hamlin, Randolph voters would be able to vote on that decision, and if they want to keep it open, the town would have to pay its operating costs, which could mean higher taxes.

While parents hope it doesn’t come to that, school officials say their vote is to give a better education.

Tuesday’s meeting for public comment will be at the school at 6 p.m. Then the school board will make a final vote February 26 on whether to close the school.

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