BINGHAM — The school board faces an issue tonight that could change the district’s makeup: whether to close Quimby Middle School.

To start the process of shuttering the school in the center of town, at least seven of the 10 School Administrative District 13 board members have to vote in favor of the closure.

Board Chairman Brian Malloy, of Bingham, said Monday he’s not certain how he or others will vote at the meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at Quimby.

“I just don’t know what the thinking is of some of the board members. I think there are plenty of reasons to close it. I also think there are plenty of reasons not to close it,” he said.

One benefit, he said, is that closing the school would save the district about $95,000 per year. There is also enough space for the 73 students in fifth through eighth grades to move into classrooms at Upper Kennebec Valley Memorial High School, also in Bingham.

“We’ve only got about 240 kids (in the district), and we’ve got them spread out in three large buildings. Obviously, we have concluded that we could move all of the Quimby kids up to the high school,” Malloy said.

However, he said he understands the other side of the argument as well. Some people don’t want younger children in the same building as older high school students. Others worry about whether Quimby’s gymnasium will continue to be available for community gatherings.

“We have no way of knowing whether or not that gymnasium will remain open in some way or not. The school will probably go back to the town if we close it, if the town votes to accept it,” Malloy said.

Superintendent Virginia Rebar said Quimby employees probably would be transferred to the high school, but “the board might want to cut back a little bit on the custodial because we would have one less building to clean — but that would have to be a board decision, of course.”

She said she understands that the closure decision is a difficult one: “Certainly closing a school is like closing a chapter in a town’s identity. It’s certainly very difficult for nostalgic, historical reasons.”

The district also is anticipating receiving less in state subsidy next school year, according to preliminary reports, she said.

If the board votes in favor of the closure, Bingham and Moscow residents will have final say at the polls. In that vote, however, both towns must vote against the board’s decision in order to keep the school open. If one town voted to close the school, it would close regardless of the cumulative vote, Malloy said.

“There are a lot of pluses and minuses. We have to try to come up with an answer. I really don’t know how I’m going to vote,” he said. “I would encourage those people that feel strongly one way or another to attend the meeting (tonight) to express their viewpoints.”

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]


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