JAY — More than 50 people from four towns turned out Monday night to give input, ask questions and try to figure out how to get high school students together at one campus.
People stressed putting students first and doing what is best for them while containing costs for taxpayers. They also agreed that the students have gotten it right with combined sports teams, prom and yearbook.
Voters in Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls rejected a proposed $5.3 million addition and renovation project at the Spruce Mountain High School North Campus in Jay in May.
Besides the North Campus, there is the south campus high school in Livermore Falls, which has been slated to close June 30, 2013.
Those attending Monday put their thoughts on proposed options on paper that hung on the wall of the middle school cafeteria. All comments have been put on the district's website: rsu73.org.
Options such as holding double sessions, prohibiting some students from playing sports and the cost of busing increasing $241,398 drew more negatives than positives.
Another option of providing six portable units with two classrooms each for a short-term temporary fix also had mixed reactions. The cost for the 12 classrooms for 12 months would be $115,488 including setup costs. For 18 months, it would be $143,400. Some said it was a waste of money. Others said it was the best alternative for now.
The idea of signing a three-year lease for a 10-classroom unit and a four-classroom-unit received many negative responses. Among the responses was support because people said it would get students together.
The option of keeping both high schools open resulted in mixed responses. Comments included "not cost effective" and some said there would be a lose of class time because kids would be traveling between schools. Some said use what the facilities available.
The option of moving the middle school to the south campus high school in Livermore Falls, and using the middle school in Jay and adjacent high school as a joint high school campus, also received mixed results. Comments ranged from best viable option to worst viable option.
The Livermore Falls school needs $2.7 million in upgrades to bring it up to code. Not all of that would have to be done at once. A study in 2007, indicated that the Livermore Falls school had used up 95 percent of its life expectancy.
Information provided shows that the Livermore Falls school is 63,137 square feet. The middle school in Jay is 18,854 square feet larger than that school. Combined, the Jay middle and high schools have 171,805 square feet.
The option of modifying the proposed addition to the Jay school and having another vote also received mixed input. Some people noted that they would have liked to see a scaled down model of an addition while others said it was too late and to respect voters' wishes.
Superintendent Robert Wall said that by redoing the entryway to the school, it would cost $600,000 less.
Spruce Mountain High School North Campus Principal Gilbert Eaton said that initially administration leaders used state standards to determine if there was enough space in the Jay school for all high school students. Superintendents believed all students would fit using that measure, he said.
In a set of regional planning committee minutes in 2010-11, it states the capacity for the Jay high school is 494 to 565 students, which would make the ability to have all the students there very tight.
When the school was designed, students only needed 17 to 18 credits to graduate, Eaton said. Now they need 24 to 24.5 credits, he said.
“It was a different feel, a different look and different expectations,” Eaton said.
The Jay school has about 83,955 square feet with the domed-gymnasium taking up 18,435 square feet of it. Factoring in other non-student areas, the estimated maximum of students that would fit is 392. The projected enrollment for 2012-13 is 502 students.
There are 42 classrooms between the two high schools — 25 of them at Jay, Eaton said.