RSU 3 recommends study of Monroe Elementary, Morse Memorial for possible closure
Officials in Regional School Unit 3 will be considering a recommendation from the district's building committee to potentially close either Monroe Elementary School or Morse Memorial School.
Superintendent Heather Perry said the district's building committee is recommending the school board do a more in-depth study of how closing either Monroe Elementary or Morse Memorial would impact the district.
Currently, Perry said there are 66 students enrolled at Monroe Elementary and 104 students enrolled at Morse Memorial.
As part of the school closure process, Perry said the district would form a committee comprised of parents, teachers, principals and other stakeholders in the town where the school would be closed. That stakeholder committee would be responsible for completing a detailed report that would address possible cost savings, as well as how closing a school would impact the district.
The report would then be presented to the school board, which would determine whether to move forward with the school closure process.
Perry said the school board will discuss choosing one of the schools recommended by the building committee during a meeting on Jan. 13. At that time, Perry said because of the scope of work involved with compiling a detailed report that addresses how closing a school will impact the district, she will ask that board members choose either Monroe or Morse to study further, but not both.
This is not the first time the district has identified Monroe Elementary for possible closure. In 2011, the district created a stakeholder committee to study closing the school and that group determined the district could save as much as $210,000 based on figures from 2009-2010, according to previously published reports. Using figures from 2010-2011, those projected cost savings could have increased by $6,000 or $7,000, Perry said at the time.
When the district considered closing Monroe in 2011, the district had identified the building for closure due to its smaller student population.
According to previously published reports, the majority of the stakeholder committee recommended the district not close Monroe Elementary because “the education that students receive at Monroe Elementary School may be ‘transported’ elsewhere in terms of basic instruction in math, or reading. However, the more intrinsic values of place may not be transplanted to another school.”
The report also stated that Monroe Elementary’s 20 acres of adjacent land that could be used for an outdoor classroom could not be easily replaced. The report also indicated that stakeholders believed the district could keep Monroe open and still see savings down the road, according to previously published reports.
A minority opinion report from the stakeholders regarding the closure of Monroe Elementary argued that the district could close the school and move students to Morse Memorial, which is located in neighboring Brooks about 7 miles away. The minority report also indicated the per-pupil costs at Monroe were higher than at other schools in the district, according to previously published reports.
As part of the school closure process, a referendum vote is held in the town where a school will be closed. Residents can vote to keep the school open, but they must pay the additional costs associated with keeping the building open.
Speaking to The Republican Journal Tuesday, Dec. 17, Perry said once school board members identify either Monroe or Morse for further study, the stakeholder committee will be formed and potentially have a report to present to board members by late spring or early summer 2014.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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