Board to decide fate of Stockton School in FebruaryDistrict continues to consider variety of options
Stockton Springs — The Regional School Unit 20 Board of Directors is expected to make a decision about the future use of Stockton Springs Elementary School at its second regular meeting in February.
RSU 20 Superintendent Brian Carpenter said all information regarding the previously discussed options for the school's future uses — which range from restoring the school to a pre-K-5 and adding a for-profit 3-year-old program to closing the school altogether — will be presented to the district finance committee for consideration.
"We'll let them make the decision and look at the pros, cons and costs," said Carpenter Tuesday, Jan. 29. "By doing that we'll have a clear picture of what we want to get into."
During an informational meeting on the topic that was held in Stockton Springs in October, Carpenter presented four courses of action:
• Moving ahead with the procedure to close the Stockton Elementary School;
• Returning it to a pre-K to 5 school by returning all Stockton Springs students to the elementary school and combining grades;
• Restoring it to a pre-K to 5 by returning all students from Searsport Elementary School, using combined grades and expanding use of the building with a for-profit 3-year-old program that Carpenter explained would be operated like an education-based daycare, or
• Making Stockton Springs Elementary a pre-K to 2 school with grades three to five going to Searsport Elementary School and adding a 3-year-old program.
At the meeting last fall, all Stockton Springs residents who expressed a preference indicated they supported the third course of action.
Discussions about the future of Stockton Springs Elementary School first arose at a September directors meeting, at which time Carpenter said the incremental transfer of grade levels from the Stockton school to Searsport Elementary School in recent years could not continue, and the time had come for the directors to make a decision about the future of the school.
"What we have now is death by attrition," said Carpenter at the time.
Also at that time, Carpenter said the eventual "death" of Stockton Springs Elementary School by continuing to decrease the school population to the point that it no longer serves any Stockton Springs students violates state law. In addition, state law does not allow a school closure to move forward based solely on a vote from the RSU 20 Board of Directors.
This week Carpenter said even while the options are being considered at the finance committee level, there is still room for additional suggestions, or even a new proposal altogether, for how the school might operate in the coming years.
No decision will be made regarding the use of Stockton Springs Elementary until the regularly scheduled board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 26, Carpenter said.