A public hearing March 22 to inform residents about closing Stockton Springs Elementary School, while lightly attended, drew questions from residents about what would happen to the building’s contents, whether a local magnet school could move in and how any proceeds from selling the building would be allocated.

Earlier this year, Regional School Unit 20 directors voted unanimously to close the building, which houses the district’s pre-kindergarten program. The next step in the process is the public hearing, which gave residents the opportunity to ask any questions about how the closure will impact the district.

Initially, it appeared those in attendance were hesitant to pose any questions until Faith Garrold asked board members what would happen to the equipment and books that are currently stored in the building. Board Chairman Tony Bagley said directors and administrators will determine what to do with the items, and assured audience members the district will not dispose of any items or furniture that are still usable.

The district could also sell the building’s contents, Bagley said.

Other questions included whether there is any remaining debt on the building — there is, about $41,000 — and what would happen to other groups, such as Girl Scouts, who use the building but would be displaced by the closure.

In that scenario, those groups will have access to the district’s buildings in Searsport, Business Manager Dhyana Blanchard said.

When discussion eventually turned to whether the building could be used by The Maine Ocean School, a Searsport-based marine-themed magnet school, Searsport Selectman Dick Desmarais suggested board members wait an additional year before closing the school.

“This is a big tool that we could work with if the (Stockton) school is available,” Desmarais said.

Bagley, however, countered that even if the district closes the building, that closure wouldn’t prevent the magnet school from approaching the district about purchasing or even leasing the school. Also, Bagley noted that prior to the board vote to close the school, no one, not even representatives from the magnet school, approached them about using the space.

By law, the district can hold onto the building for about two years until it determines how to dispose of the property. Bagley said he didn’t feel it would be wise for the district to keep the school open, incurring expenses to do so, just in case a still-in-the-works magnet school decides it wants the space.

If the building is sold, those proceeds would be funneled into the district’s budget and could be used, among other things, to help offset local taxes, Blanchard noted.

Before the public hearing ended, Bagley said the board recently learned that only one town needs to vote in favor of closing Stockton Springs Elementary in order to shutter the building. However, if both towns vote to keep the building open they will split the costs, based on the state’s funding formula, to do so.

The referendum vote on the school closure is scheduled for April 11.