RSU 71 board pauses tri-town school talks

Chairwoman says 'abstract discussion' had become distracting
By Ethan Andrews | Sep 12, 2017

Belfast — Regional School Unit 71 board of directors has put discussions of a new tri-town school on hold for two months.

Board Chairwoman Caitlin Hills of Belfast said the new school, which would replace a pair of aging elementary schools serving Belmont, Morrill and Searsmont, has been on the agenda every meeting for five months with discussions regularly going for more than an hour.

"I think the board was getting fatigued — I was certainly getting fatigued — with this abstract discussion," Hills said. " … We just need some more detailed information if we want to move forward."

With help from WBRC Architects, the board had narrowed a field of potential properties to eight, then five. Hills still felt this was too many to justify the cost of a closer study of each parcel.

On Sept. 11, after a failed motion to pause the tri-town school project until June 2018, Hills settled for a 6-3 vote to delay talks for two months, during which time a board committee would narrow the field to two or three properties.

"We want to be more specific," she said. "We want to move forward, but in a way that doesn't take up an hour and a half of the board's attention every meeting. And that's what committees are for."

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