LIVERMORE FALLS — People who spoke at Monday night's RSU 73 informational meeting said they would like to see the district use the buildings it has instead of putting an addition on the Jay high school and closing the Livermore Falls high school.
There are two options the school board’s facilities committee is considering. Both of them call for closing the Livermore Falls school.
Questions raised included why not use the Livermore Falls school and make it into a middle school for the consolidated school system. Then the Spruce Mountain Middle School in Jay and the adjacent high school could be used as one high school. The option was mentioned previously but was not considered.
“I see no exit plan,” Rick Parker, a resident of Livermore, said.
Parker said he didn’t understand why there was such a rush to close a second school in Livermore Falls when there is no plan to get rid of the closed middle school.
“Why do we have to have the proverbial gun to the head” to close the high school? Parker asked.
The Livermore Falls Middle School is closed to academics but the gym is still being used for co-curricular events and recreational activities.
There is a lot of interest in keeping the high school open, Parker said.
Superintendent Bob Wall agreed there was no exit plan for the middle school. The board thought it didn’t have enough information to close it completely this year, he said. There was interest in using the gym and stage and they were told they needed to heat the building minimally or it would deteriorate quickly, Wall said.
The facilities committee will decide on a recommendation for the middle school in the future.
It is estimated to cost $2.8 million to bring the Livermore Falls high school up to code and $1.3 million to bring the Jay school up to code.
“It is clear we cannot afford to bring both of the buildings up to code,” Wall said.
If the school board votes at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20, to close the high school, then it would go to voters in Livermore and Livermore Falls. If those towns vote to keep it open, they would share the more than $600,000 that the district is estimated to save on top of the regular school budget.
Resident Bob Jones of Livermore Falls said that if the Livermore Falls school is closed then that town would have no school.
“Livermore Falls is going to be wiped off the map,” Jones said, and have no identification.
The district is trying to run efficiently and effectively, Wall said. One way to meet that goal is to operate one high school, he said. Otherwise it would mean more money would have to come from local taxpayers to run the schools, he said.
“That’s why we are trying to move it ahead,” Wall said.
Jones said it sounds like it is a done deal since there is no alternative to closing the school being offered.
Board Chairwoman Denise Rodzen said the facilities committee has met several times and explored options to develop a plan to house students and save the district money. The three-member committee is expected to vote on a recommended option at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19, at the Cedar Street center in Livermore Falls.
The options the facilities committee are looking at are building a 128- by 70-foot addition on the Jay school and have all high school students attend it next fall. The permanent, two-story addition would be built off site in modularized compartments. It would then be installed on a full foundation at the Jay school.
That option is estimated to cost $4.5 million and includes bringing the school up to code.
The second option is to keep both schools open in 2012 by sending all ninth graders to the Jay school and serving grades nine, 10 and 11. The Livermore Falls school would also serve grades 10, 11 and 12.
All high school students would attend the Jay school in fall 2013.