Some townspeople are upset over a lack of communication from the school board about plans to discuss whether Albion Elementary School should be closed.

The school board voted recently on whether to put such a proposal on a town ballot, but it hadn’t listed the item as a discussion topic on its agenda beforehand.

On Oct. 20, the school board of School Administrative District 49, which includes the towns of Fairfield, Clinton, Albion and Benton, voted on a motion to add a referendum question on a future town ballot asking residents to close Albion Elementary School. The motion was narrowly defeated, 6-5.

Parents who attended the meeting to give public comment were surprised when school board members brought up the topic, said Melissa Hackett, a parent from Albion who went to give input on a different issue.

“If people are supposed to give their trust and faith in the school board, then there has to be a form of transparency,” Hackett said. “Regardless of my emotional feelings on the school closing, this wasn’t handled in the correct way.”

Hackett said she also was surprised that the board member who submitted the motion didn’t have any numbers to give the board to explain why the school should be closed.

Board Chairwoman Shelley Rudnicki said the board wants to build a new school to attract new families to the district and maintain enrollment. The early indications are that the district’s expenses will continue to rise as state funding stays flat, she said.

“This is the beginning of that process, to consolidate,” she wrote in an email. “Our preliminary numbers indicate that it costs the district significantly more to educate an Albion student at Albion Elementary then it does any of our other elementary schools. Our elementary schools are getting older and older and we are trying to be proactive.”

Responding to complaints that the recent school vote wasn’t listed on a board agenda, Rudnicki said that “any board member can bring anything up at anytime.” Rudnicki said the agenda already had been sent out before the board decided to discuss closing the school, and that she had spoken with the school’s superintendent, Dean Baker, and the district’s lawyer before the meeting.

The board will vote to accept or reject the minutes from the meeting Thursday, she said. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Lawrence Junior High School and includes time to discuss “school facility planning.”

One Albion resident and parent, Michael Scholz, said he was surprised when he heard about the closure vote.

“I wouldn’t say everybody is against closing the school, but we’d certainly like to hear what the rationale is,” he said.

Beverly Bradstreet, an Albion selectman, said the school board hasn’t “told us anything.” Some people don’t want the school closed, she said.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

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Twitter: @madelinestamour