READFIELD — Families in Regional School Unit 38 will have the chance to give input on possible restructuring scenarios for the elementary schools at two public forums this month.

The first one is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14 at Manchester Elementary School and the second for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, at Mount Vernon Elementary School.

A group of parents has also arranged, via Facebook, a pre-forum meeting for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Manchester Elementary School for parents and citizens “to discuss and openly talk about the possible changes and the advantages/disadvantages of these.”

RSU 38’s school board is considering two options for restructuring to deal with declining enrollment and unequal class sizes.

The district’s administrative team has recommended putting all students in third through fifth grades at Readfield Elementary and using the other elementary schools in Manchester, Mount Vernon and Wayne for prekindergarten through second grade.

The other proposal “would reassign students by population capacity of each school without regard to town borders,” according to the restructuring committee’s report to the full board.

Opposition has emerged to both plans and has been voiced on the Maranacook Restructuring page on Facebook.

“The perceived weakness in our district is the middle school,” one Manchester parent wrote anonymously. “Why are we tampering with K-5 that are largely successful? Why not implement better district-wide literacy support system? Why are we keeping Wayne school open with population that cannot support it?”

That parent and another, who also wrote anonymously, said they wanted to see more research on the impact of restructuring.

“There should be at least a five year planning schedule with at least three heavily researched and detailed options for the school board to consider,” the second parent wrote.

School board members said at their regular meeting Wednesday that they are not committed to anything and welcome public feedback.

Steve Hayes, a board member from Readfield, proposed two actions to head off potential objections.

The board approved, by a vote of 7-4, a policy that children from the same family will not be split between schools if they are eligible to attend the same school — for instance, if one sibling is in kindergarten and another in second grade.

Board members who voted against the policy said they support its intent but do not want to lock the district into anything that could create problems later.

Hayes said it’s important to remove wiggle room on the question, though the situation would probably be rare.

“Take that bullet out of the opponents’ guns,” he said. “Make it go away.”

The board did not take any action on Hayes’ proposal for a commitment that no student will spend more than an hour traveling to or from school.

“I think we may have some children traveling more than an hour now,” said Kate Taylor, a board member from Readfield.

Board members agreed to seek more information before making any decisions on such a policy.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]


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