GARDINER — Regional School Unit 11 will keep students at Pittston’s and Randolph’s elementary schools organized as they are now, following the school board’s vote Thursday not to split up the schools’ students.

A proposal had called for all pre-kindergarten through second grade students to attend Pittston Consolidated School and grades three through five to attend T.C. Hamlin school in Randolph. Now, both schools serve kindergarten through fifth grade students from their own towns.

Last year, a committee of administrators, teachers, school board members and parents studied the reorganization idea, which had been discussed many times in recent years.

The school board told the committee to examine three concerns: a lack of space at Pittston; teacher isolation at Hamlin, where there is only one teacher at each grade level; and widely divergent class sizes at the two schools.

The committee did not make a recommendation to the school board, but Superintendent Pat Hopkins said she did not think it was necessary to shuffle the students around.

“It was loud and clear that through the process, the committee and administrators found that there were some accommodations that could be made between the two schools that would help get us to the place where, as a board, we want our schools to be,” school board Chairwoman Becky Fles said Thursday.

Gardiner board member Eric Jermyn made a motion, which all board members approved, to direct the district’s administrators to continue to look for ways to address the board’s three main concerns with the schools.

Hamlin had an unusually large group of kindergarten students this year, so administrators asked some parents to send their children to Pittston. Likewise, Pittston had too many children in first grade, some of whom are now attending Hamlin.

No one was forced to change schools, Hopkins said.

Although the committee said reconfiguring would have produced some benefits, members also found several disadvantages to the change. It would have been inconvenient for parents with children in two elementary schools, and research has shown that shifting from one school to another at a young age is associated with lower academic achievement, the committee said.

The district also would have incurred one-time expenses for moving and building modifications, as well as a continuing increase in the transportation budget of about $17,000 per year, according to the committee’s report.

Jermyn said Thursday that he first ran for the school board to fight the 2006 reorganization of Gardiner’s schools into a scheme similar to the one investigated for Hamlin and Pittston.

Although it was a controversial change, Jermyn said something had to be done because the imbalance between schools was so stark: about 90 students at River View and about 280 at Laura E. Richards School, which was on the verge of overcrowding.

Laura E. Richards now serves students in pre-kindergarten through second grade, and River View serves grades three through five.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]


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