Future of Mt. Abram high under study

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SALEM TOWNSHIP – Declining enrollment and the condition of Mt. Abram High School were cited Wednesday in a statement by SAD 58 about planning for the future.

Enrollment in the district as a whole – already decreasing at about 1 percent a year for the past 10 years – declined this school year by nearly 7 percent, Superintendent Quenten Clark said Wednesday. The decrease is expected to hit the high school in the next five to six years, he said, bringing enrollment there from 330 to only 220.

At the same time, at 40 years old, the high school building is getting old enough that it’s necessary to begin making plans for a future renovation, which would come at a substantial cost to taxpayers.

So board members voted in December to hire consultants who will study the high school and district, and come up with a variety of ways to deal with the problems projected.

“That study may well require more wrenching decisions by our member towns,” the statement said.

How much it will cost to complete the study is unknown at this point, Clark said, because the consultants are still being sought out.

“It’s something we need to do,” Clark said. The district plans to involve the public at every step along the way, he said.

“In the end, if anything dramatic happens, people are going to have to vote on it,” he said. “This is not something (the board is) going to do some dark night in Stratton.”

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