Public hearing on Weld school closing Tuesday

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WELD – A public hearing will be held 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 29 at the town hall to discuss closing the Weld Elementary School.

 A public hearing is a necessary step before the state Department of Education will allow a school to be closed. At Tuesday’s public hearing, voters will be able to gather information and discuss closing the local school, prior to a resident-only vote, scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 12 at the town office.

Weld residents will need to approve the closing of the school, which educates the local children for grades K-6, at the August referendum vote for MSAD 9 to complete the shut down. If Weld decides not to close the school, they will be responsible for putting up the money that would have been saved by MSAD 9 if it had been closed. This would be added to the $594,610 that the town already pays to educate its 45 K-12 students in MSAD 9.

The cost of keeping the school open has been estimated at roughly $100,000 annually.

Besides the tight financial times for school districts across the state, the administration recommended closing Weld Elementary due to the low anticipated enrollment numbers for the next few years. It is believed that only 13 children would attend the Weld school next year, and none of them are in K-2.

Running the school for 13 children is expensive, as well. While only one teacher would need to be at the school, the physical education, foreign language, special education and other specialists would still need to commute to and from Weld. The facility would still need to be heated, cleaned and maintained. Hot lunches would still need to served.

If closed, Weld’s students would instead be transported 15 miles to Wilton’s Academy Hill School or, possibly, Phillips Middle School, if MSAD 9 and MSAD 58 consolidate into one district with Coplin and Highland plantations as currently proposed.

Weld typically pays more on an individual basis compared to other MSAD 9 towns, due to its high property valuation. Selectmen have estimated that Weld taxpayers currently pay a little less than $14,000 per student. That, by way of comparison, is three times what Farmington citizens pay and five times what Chesterville residents pay.

 

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