DIXFIELD — The RSU 10 Board of Directors devoted most of Monday’s regular meeting to narrowing down some possible school building changes that would reduce district costs while still maintaining the educational programming.
Among the potential options devised by the end of the evening for the next one to three years included the possibility of closing the 50-plus-year-old Rumford Elementary School and moving children to Meroby Elementary School and to another school in the Mountain Valley region.
Also up for possible closure is the Pennacook Learning Center, Rumford, which had been Virginia Elementary School until it was changed to serve about 35 disabled children a few years ago. It is the oldest school building in the district.
The program that serves this student population could then be moved to one of several possible locations, including a portion of Mountain Valley High School or Dirigo Middle School.
Several ideas were proposed for DMS, which is one of the newer school buildings in the district, including locating the central administrative offices there.
Another suggestion would change DMS from serving grades 6 to 8 to serving grades 7 to 9, then housing grades 10 to 12 at Dirigo High School.
In this scenario, elementary children living in Canton would attend classes at Hartford/Sumner Elementary School in Sumner. Dirigo Elementary School in Peru, which now educates Pre-K through 5, would serve Pre-K through grade 6.
A proposal was also made to house the central administrative offices in Buckfield and close the former Dixfield Elementary School in Dixfield.
In the Mountain Valley region, with a closure of RES one option is to house all children from that region in grades Pre-K to 2 at Meroby Elementary School in Mexico and grades 3 through 6 or 7 at Mountain Valley Middle School, which in turn would mean that grades 7 or 8 through grade 12 would attend MVHS.
Superintendent Tom Ward said other considerations must be made when deciding which buildings, if any, would be closed. This includes housing for the bus garage, which is currently at MVHS, and an interest by the Rumford/Mexico University System to move from Mexico to the high school.
Carthage representative Ronnie Hutchinson said the PLC was looked at last year, but this year she said it needs action. She also wants RES to be seriously considered for closure.
Ward said whatever decisions are made would take at least a year to complete, according to state law that dictates how a school is closed.
He also said that the school building structure in the Nezinscot region is a model for the rest of the district. Buckfield Junior-Senior High School houses grades 7 to 12, and HSES houses grades Pre-K through 6.
At the board’s next meeting on Aug. 13, Monday’s narrowed list will be presented, and decisions on what next steps to take will be determined.