SALEM TOWNSHIP — The Maine School Administrative District 58 board of directors voted 6-5, or a weighted vote of 429-369, on Thursday to temporarily halt meetings of the Future Planning Committee through 2023-24, Superintendent Todd Sanders said Monday.

During a meeting on Oct. 17 with the board members on the committee and several towns’ selectmen, the topic of closing Mt. Abram High School came up, as it has several times in the past, Sanders said. It got out to residents and concerns were raised.

The Carrabassett Valley school board and superintendent offered to help the district because the town pays tuition for its students to attend Mt. Abram, Sanders said, so the residents want to be involved in the discussion.

A survey that was to be developed by the Future Planning Committee will not be done and presented at the polls on Nov. 8. There certainly could be a survey of some kind prior to the budget development process, should the board desire, Sanders wrote in an email.

The district went through a school reconfiguration that was implemented in late August. They established two schools for prekindergarten through grade four, Kingfield Elementary and Phillips Elementary; a middle school for grades five through eight, Day Mountain Regional Middle School in Strong; and Mt. Abram High School in Salem Township. Prior to that there were three pre-kindergarten to grade eight schools and the high school.

The reorganization was an attempt to alleviate some of the challenges the district faces. It allowed the district to decrease staffing and increase class sizes to be better in alignment with the state school funding formula, Sanders said previously. The federal grant money that helps pay for teachers and other resources is going to run out. The district needs to resolve some of the budgetary issues, Sanders said.


Directors can meet in another committee to discuss how to resolve the funding issues but closing schools will not be considered.

Voting in favor of pausing the Future Planning Committee were directors Joanne Bacheldor of Avon, Paul Orbeton of Kingfield, Kim Jordan of Kingfield, Lois Barker of Strong, Kathy Doyon of Strong, and Chairwoman Jessica Cain of Phillips, Sanders said.

Voting against halting the committee’s work were directors Vice Chairwoman Julie Talmage of Kingfield, Susan Pratt of Strong, Jessie Stinchfield of Strong, Brian Donovan of Phillips and Barbara Barnes of Phillips.

Not in attendance were directors Joseph Ford of Phillips, Adam Bilodeau of Avon, and Kim Robinson of Kingfield, Sanders said.

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