LIVERMORE FALLS — Regional School Unit 73 Superintendent Robert Wall gave an overview of available options for high school buildings to the board Thursday night. A meeting will be held in June to look at short- and long-term plans to address student housing needs.
He also informed the board that there will be a meeting at 6 p.m., Monday, June 11, at the Spruce Mountain Middle School cafeteria in Jay to get feedback on why the bond for the proposed $5.3 million addition and renovation project at the Spruce Mountain High School North Campus in Jay failed on May 8.
The meeting is open to community and school leaders, members of the public and others to share perspectives on the future of the schools as a combined regional school unit. Letters were sent out Friday to town administrators, selectmen, community leaders, budget committees and school personnel, among others.
RSU 73 serves the towns of Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls and has tuition students from Fayette.
Wall said he would be sharing the building options during that meeting.
Among the options for high school students to be discussed are putting modular classroom units in place, conducting double sessions, tuitioning vocational students to Mt. Blue High School Learning Campus, Foster Technology Center complex in Farmington, revisit another renovation/addition project maybe with less space, and keeping both high schools open and possibly rethinking grade configurations.
Teacher Robbin Nichol suggested adding to the list the option of using the south campus school in Livermore Falls as the middle school and having the high and middle schools in Jay become the Spruce Mountain High School campus. That would save the district from building an addition, he said.
Estimates to renovate the Livermore Falls school up to code is $2.7 million and the Jay school, $1.3 million. A question was brought up about why the upgrades would need to be done since no new construction was being done in this option.
The option of conducting double sessions for the 500 or so students would mean one group could go to school 7 a.m. to noon, and the second session would follow, Wall said.
State regulations require student days to be five hours per day, he said.
High school students from the newly formed Student Education Advocates questioned why they had to put the two campuses together right away.
Wall said that if one school was closed, then the money used to operate it could go toward student education programs rather than electricity, heat and other operational needs.
Junior Erin Gats said consolidation was originally proposed to give students more educational opportunity but now electives are being cut. She wanted to know how eliminating teaching positions and cutting programs would give students more opportunities.
If the two schools were together, Wall said, it wouldn't be necessary to eliminate positions because the one school would run more efficiently.
He also said that that they are not cutting programs, it is a perception.
What they are thinking about is offering electives every other year, he said.
Student Ashlie Robbins said that options are being taken away from students.
Wall said that some of the classes at each campus have small numbers of students in them.
“I think opportunities will be gained when we get students together,” Wall said.