LIVERMORE — RSU 36 directors voted unanimously Monday to close the middle school.
The decision could be finalized with Livermore and Livermore Falls voters giving their approval, possibly on May 10. That was the date outlined last month when Superintendent Sue Pratt discussed the matter with the board.
If voters in both towns vote to close the school effective June 30, then sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders will go to Jay Middle School. RSU 36 directors would then decide what to do with the building with one option being giving it back to Livermore Falls.
The action came after several people commented or asked questions.
Resident Katrina Roy of Livermore Falls said she would hope if the school is closed that it could be used for a recreation center to give children something to do and hopefully reduce crime.
Roy also said she had heard that there was a grant the district was to receive to build a new high school.
If that was the case, why couldn’t a new school be built for the middle and high school students? Roy asked.
“It is a rumor; it’s not true,” Chairman Ashley O’Brien said.
Using the building for a rec center clearly would be a town decision, Pratt said.
She also confirmed there was no building project grant.
Any of the grants the district has are for academic purposes and not for facilities, she said.
The Livermore Falls Middle School is not condemned but it does not meet current codes and does not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act in some areas, Pratt said.
It needs upgrading that will cost millions, she said.
Vice Chairwoman Denise Rodzen of Livermore Falls said the Jay school is newer and is a state-of-the-art facility.
The operation cost of the Livermore Falls school is about $400,000 annually, Pratt said. The elevator at the school will not meet inspection next year and it will take about $84,000 for it to do so, she said.
The building uses about 18,000 gallons a fuel a year.
It’s an old building that is costing a lot to keep open, Pratt said.
If Livermore and Livermore Falls students go to the middle school, Jay would move its fourth- and fifth-graders back to the Jay Elementary School.
Both elementary schools are to stay the same.
Livermore Falls Middle School Principal Bob Kahler said he had been to the Jay school prior to the vote and that school has much more space.
Right now in this building, if a teacher needs to give a student one-on-one attention, then they end up meeting in what amounts to a closet, Rodzen said.
Resident Rose Darling asked if her daughter went to eighth grade in Jay, would she come back and go to ninth grade in Livermore Falls.
That would be a new board’s decision, Pratt said.
The Jay High School does not have enough room for all of Livermore Falls High School’s students, she said. An addition would be needed to accommodate them.
Suggestions were made to make Livermore Falls High School a middle school for both systems and use the Jay middle and high schools as a high school. In the past, it was suggested to keep both high schools and have them concentrate on different courses.
The focus this year is on the middle school, Pratt said.
This board and the Jay board cannot make a decision to encumber a new consolidated board, Rodzen said.
Directors were asked if they had children in the middle school, would they close the Livermore Falls school and send them to the Jay school.
Directors O’Brien, Rodzen and Ann Souther all said they would have no problem sending children or grandchildren to the Jay school.
Resident Julia Parker of Livermore, who is a Jay High School secretary, said her son Holden, now a senior, has received a tremendous education in RSU 36.
If she votes to close the middle school, she said, she is not selling the staff short, she’s selling the building short.