JAY — Regional planning committee members on Tuesday requested school superintendents to develop different scenarios of cost savings if Jay School System and Regional School Unit 36 merge.

If they do merge, taxpayers in Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls would avoid $364,000 in penalties being deducted from state educational subsidy during the first year.

Superintendents also listed a conservative savings for the third year of the plan at $300,000.

Planning Committee member Ken Jacques of Livermore Falls, who has businesses in Jay and Livermore Falls, said when that savings figure hit the newspaper two weeks ago, he was hammered with comments about it not being enough.

He asked that more realistic figures be calculated so voters would have a better idea of what consolidation would mean in savings.

Voters in all three towns rejected consolidation of school systems in 2009 and Jacques said it was because of  a lack of information.

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These are all figures contingent upon actions recommended in the plan, Jay Superintendent Robert Wall said.

What is not known is if a new school board that would oversee a new system would take the recommendations of the regional planning committee, he said.

Several subcommittees and the planning committee have been working on a school consolidation plan to present to voters in January.

It has been recommended that the Livermore Falls Middle School be closed and students there go to Jay Middle School. It is also recommended in the second year of the consolidation plan to close the Livermore Falls High School and send students to Jay High School.

The conservative estimate of $300,000 in savings the third year does not factor in the closings of schools, Wall said.

RSU 36 Chairman Ashley O’Brien of Livermore and a businessman there, also said that even if the schools are closed, there would still be related costs to maintain the buildings until they’re either torn down or get new owners.

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It costs $800,000 to run the two high schools, Wall said. If one closes, that figure would drop significantly, he said.

Jacques said when they present the plan to residents, they need to be clear about savings.

Another difficult part is they don’t know what the staff numbers are going to be each year, RSU 36 Superintendent Sue Pratt said.

“We don’t know what the full costs will be,” she said.

It is difficult to quantify the efficiencies, she added.

Jacques said he felt strongly that realistic numbers be presented to residents prior to the vote. He suggested that different scenarios be worked up so residents could look at options, he said.

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“We need solid numbers that people can sink their teeth into,” Jacques said. “I think there are bigger savings.”

They know for sure, Wall said, that consolidation would slow the growth of education costs.

There will also be start-up costs for a new system, Pratt said.

“That first year folks, you are going to have a lot of expenses,” she said.

Jacques said he wants the committee to have answers to anticipated questions or voters won’t support the proposed plan.

Wall said he has gathered tax information and will be doing a breakdown of what it would cost average taxpayers on different property valuations.

Livermore Falls Town Manager Jim Chaousis said that large commercial taxpayers also need to know the costs and all taxpayers need to know what they would face if one of those large taxpayers closes down.

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