Vote no signs Monday morning at Percy’s Hardware Company on state Route 197 in Litchfield. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LITCHFIELD — As you drive into town on state Route 197, you’ll see a sprinkling of signs that encourage people to vote no to the Regional School Unit 4 referendum set for Aug. 9. “We can’t afford it,” is the simple message.

A group of local residents is behind the semi-organized effort opposing the school board’s proposal to build an addition at Oak Hill Middle School and close two aging schools — Libby Tozier Primary School and Sabattus Primary School.

They have also been canvassing door-to-door and at local gathering places, like the transfer station and the Town Office.

The overwhelming reaction is: what referendum? That’s not a good sign when the vote is one week away at a whopping $31.6 million, plus interest.

On Monday, the town had to announce on Facebook that in-person absentee voting had to be halted, because they had run out of ballots — all 150 of them — with a pledge to resume in-person voting on Tuesday, as soon as they could secure more a ballots from RSU 4. That’s already more votes cast than in 2009, when voters were asked to decide whether to form the school district. That referendum was held Aug. 12 and only 119 votes were cast in Litchfield, 66 against and 53 for, according to RSU 4 records.

Just for comparison, about 1,730 votes were cast in Litchfield in the 2020 gubernatorial election, which was held in November.


The wild card in the referendum is how residents in Sabattus and Wales vote, because all the yes votes and no votes will be tallied and the majority will win. Opposition to the vote appears to be strongest in Litchfield, based on the number of people who have spoken out against the proposal at the public hearing in June and at the latest school board special meeting last week, and there is the formation of an opposition group.

Outside the Town Office on Monday one resident expressed his concerns for the cost of the school addition, admitting he wasn’t aware the referendum was being held until last week, when one of the canvassers stopped by his house and left him an information sheet. He said he was more concerned about the condition of Whippoorwill Road and when the town was going to finish repaving it.

An aerial view Monday morning of Libby Tozier School on Academy Road in Litchfield. State Route 197 (Richmond Road) is on the right. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Polls open in Litchfield and Sabattus at 8 a.m. and at 7 a.m. in Wales. All polls close at 8 p.m.

• LITCHFIELD: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sportsmen’s Club, 2261 Hallowell Road. For information contact the Town Office, 207-268-4721.
• SABATTUS: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Town Office, 190 Middle Road, 207-375-4331.
• WALES: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Town Office, 175 Centre Road, 207-375-8881.

The wording of the referendum is:

“Article 1: Do you favor authorizing the School Board of Regional School Unit No.4 (the “RSU”) to issue bonds or notes in the name of the RSU for school construction purposes in an amount not to exceed $31,687,216 to construct and equip a new school building connected to the current Oak Hill Middle School in the Town of Sabattus? The two-building campus will serve grades 2-8. As part of this school construction project the RSU will close Sabattus Primary School and Libby Tozier School.”

A yes vote means you want the $31,687,216 30-year bond to pass, which means closing Libby Tozier and Sabattus Primary schools. A no vote means that you do not want the bond to pass and you don’t want to close the two schools.

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