More than 100 people from Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland attended a public hearing Tuesday night at which Regional School Unit 16 directors and administrators responded to comments and questions about the future of the district’s elementary schools.

The district’s directors have scheduled a vote for this Monday on whether the region will continue to have three elementary schools or close Minot Consolidated School, leaving RSU 16 with two elementary schools.

Whichever option is chosen, the region could see a significant increase in educational costs in next year’s budget, primarily for building operations, according to officials.

Mary Martin, chair of the RSU 16 board, said the increased expenses would be a “fiscal challenge to our community.”

Martin said the district’s three elementary schools, each more than 50 years old, “need to be fixed, not just repaired,” especially the heating and ventilation systems.

Martin said RSU 16 directors must “find a solution that best supports the educational needs of our students.”


Most of the comments and questions Tuesday night were from Minot residents, who made up much of the audience at the Poland Regional High School cafeteria.

Questions dealt with the lengths of bus trips; the possible need for modular classrooms for the reconfigured schools if capacity is reached; the impact on property valuations with no local school; the process for getting qualified, affordable contractors; how RSU 16’s elementary schools have been allowed to reach the condition they are now in; and why Minot residents were not told earlier their town could lose its elementary school.

The RSU 16 directors apologized that a scheduled mailing to residents had to be canceled because officials changed the date for holding the vote on the district’s elementary schools.

Superintendent Todd Sanders explained to the audience the laws on closing a school in a regional school unit.

Sanders said district directors can opt to close a school, but a vote on the closure must be held in the community or communities that would be affected.

If the community votes yes, the school can be closed.


If the vote is no, the town must pay a portion of the school’s operation based on a specified formula.

The regional school unit and the town repeat the process the second year, and if the town opposes the school closure, the town pays a portion again.

If the same happens after the third year, the school closure is final.

Stephen Robinson of the Poland Board of Selectpersons served on the 23-member task force formed in May, which gathered information on education, transportation and building operations that led to the options presented to the RSU 16 directors.

Robinson said the option to close an elementary school would affect all students in the region, not only those in Minot.

He also said the options for the communities in RSU 16 include closing three schools, with two schools reopening as something else.

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