Selectmen updated on proposed school closure

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LIVERMORE FALLS — Absentee ballots for the vote on closing the high school will be available Friday, March 2, at the Town Office.

They will also be available at the Livermore Town Office for residents there.

A public hearing on the proposed closure is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, in the Spruce Mountain High School South Campus cafeteria in Livermore Falls.

The referendum for Livermore and Livermore Falls residents will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, at respective town offices, RSU 73 Superintendent Robert Wall told selectmen Tuesday.

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The vote will be a “yes” or “no” to close the high school in Livermore Falls.

The question on the ballot will be: “Do you favor authorizing the school board of Regional School Unit 73 to close Spruce Mountain High School — South Campus?”

The additional cost of keeping the school open has been estimated to be $650,758.79, Wall said.

It will take a majority of voters in one town to close the school, Wall said. It would take a majority of voters in both Livermore and Livermore Falls to keep it open.

If voters opt to keep it open, then the two towns would share the cost based on the valuation of the town.

Jay, which is also in RSU 73, won’t be participating in the vote to close the school because the law says the vote can only involve communities that send the majority of their high school students to the Livermore Falls campus.

RSU 73 directors voted in January to close the school due to the cost of running and maintaining two high schools.

“Combining the students at the north campus building will save dollars over time,” Wall said.

If the vote to close the Livermore Falls school passes and a referendum on building an addition on to the Spruce Mountain High School North Campus in Jay fails, then the school board can revote to open the school in Livermore Falls, Wall said.

The cost to operate both schools would then be borne by the three towns in the district, he said.

Mailings will be sent to residents prior to the closure vote.

Wall answered questions from the selectmen, including what a ballpark figure on an addition to be built on Jay school would cost.

An RSU 73 subcommittee is looking at what space would be needed for an addition to house all high school students at Jay.

They have not come up with a figure yet, he said.

Wall said his estimate is $4.5 million, which includes the $1.3 million in upgrades to the main building to bring it up to code.

The district is also going to look at other pots of money other than tax dollars, he said.

School officials plan to check to see if the state reopens revolving renovation money, or if there is some unused federal money among other sources, he said.

Bill Demaray, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said in his opinion it is not whether the town has a school in it, it is what is best for the education of the children.

Both he and Selectman Louise Chabot said they are in favor of all high school students going to one school.

“We have to realize we are in competition,” Wall said. “These are three great towns.”

People will look for the best schools to settle down with their families, he said.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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