ANDOVER — A community meeting is set for 9 a.m. Saturday, April 30, at the Town Hall to consider options for keeping Andover Elementary School open.

Selectmen and state Rep. Matt Peterson, D-Rumford, will be available to offer information.

The SAD 44 board voted 13-3 Monday night to close the  school at the end of the current school year. It has 31 pupils in grades kindergarten to five.

Andover residents will vote in late May or early June whether or not they want to close the school, Supt. David Murphy said Thursday night. If they vote to keep it open, he said, the SAD 44 budget to be presented to district voters in late June will be $9.8 million. If they vote to close it, district voters will have a $9.6 million budget to vote on, Murphy said.

Tina Farrington, secretary to the Board of Selectmen, said many people in town are concerned about closing it.

“We’d like to keep our elementary school open,” she said. “Our school is such a good school. Kids have high scores.”

Wendy Hutchins, a part-time substitute secretary/librarian at the school, echoed Farrington’s feelings.

“This building is packed whenever the kids are doing anything, like a book fair, concert, or whatever,” she said. She said she hasn’t decided whether she will attend Saturday’s meeting, but several in the school are planning to attend.

Hutchins’ husband, Harold, graduated from the school when it was a high school in 1968.

One option for Andover is to leave SAD 44 and pay tuition for middle and high school students to attend Telstar Middle/High School in Bethel, or Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico and Mountain Valley High School in Rumford.

Another option would be for Andover to pay $214,600 more to SAD 44, which is the amount the district said it will save by closing the school.

Andover currently pays $480,507 to fund SAD 44.

Murphy said the savings from closing the school would be used to retain a Title I teacher, and as contingencies for maintenance, fuel costs and personnel, if they are needed when the Andover children move to Crescent Park Elementary School in Bethel.

The student enrollment has been shrinking for years, from a high of more than 100. The decline reflects the loss of population — 950 in 2005 to 821 in 2010 — and the loss of several industries.

Andover joined SAD 44 in 1968. Other towns in the district are Bethel, Greenwood, Newry and Woodstock.

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