Last year, the SAD 44 Board of Directors decided to close the Andover Elementary School because of declining enrollment, an aging building, and the need for district-wide efficiency. The citizens of Andover objected strenuously and agreed to fund — in addition to the town’s share of the overall SAD44 budget — some $214,000 to keep the school open for one more year.

Now this year’s budget contemplates continued operation of the school, with Andover funding an additional $68,000 — down from $214,000 — to keep the school open. It appears that the rest of the SAD 44 taxpayers are being asked to fund the difference, and to underwrite the looming $200,000 replacement of an old, failing boiler at the school.

Has the board changed its mind about closing this school?

I have seen no reports of public discussion of this issue and that apparent lack of transparency bothers me.

I have the uneasy feeling that Andover rolled some $214,000 dice on a bet with a multiple-year payoff, and won; and that the board and administration are hoping for some very short memories in the district — perhaps to avoid another confrontation over closing the Andover school.

Members of the SAD 44 board need to speak up.

Have they  changed their minds, and if so, why? If they now believe that reversing field and keeping the school open is preferable, I’d like to know their reasons. But if I don’t get some persuasive answers, then, for the first time in my life, I’m going to vote against a public school budget.

George E. Bell III, Bethel


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