MONMOUTH — Even as the town goes through a process that could lead to its exit from Regional School Unit 2, school administrators say it will be business as usual when it comes to maintaining buildings and programs for students.

Virgel Hammonds, superintendent of RSU 2, which also includes Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell and Richmond, said decisions on repairs will still depend on funding.

“I’ve been speaking to a lot of parents,” Hammonds said. “There’s lots of confusion.”

One of those parents, Brian Coffin, confronted selectmen during last week’s meeting on Wednesday. Coffin said he had heard town officials had asked Hammonds to delay improvements to schools within the town until after the withdrawal process was complete. The town would likely be forced to reimburse the school district if voters approve withdrawal.

Coffin’s primary concern is the gymnasium floor at Monmouth Middle School, which has bowed and buckled due to moisture created by a deteriorating foundation.

“The floor is not safe,” Coffin said. “It needs to get fixed.”

Selectman Harold Jones, whose granddaughter attends the school, assured Coffin that the town would not try to prevent the school district from fixing the floor. The town has no say over whether the floor is fixed because it is in the school district-owned building.

“If this board had the power to decide to fix the floor would be fixed,” Jones said.

Hammonds said he and town officials have talked about how to proceed in light of Monmouth’s potential exit. He said the town has asked the school district not to do any unnecessary projects and has asked to be alerted to any major capital improvements. But the gymnasium floor is far from an unnecessary project, Hammonds said.

“I see that as a safety issue and I’m pretty sure they would see that as a safety issue as well,” he said.

Clearing up the confusion is only half the struggle, Hammonds said. The RSU 2 board this year cut the capital improvement budget from $100,000 to $50,000 to help soften the blow on taxpayers. The $50,000 will be used for projects across the school district, which will be prioritized based on safety needs, Hammonds said.

The buildings and grounds committee is set to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Hall-Dale Elementary School off Winthrop Street in Hallowell. The committee will talk about a process for addressing the gym floor, which likely will include informal repair estimates before going out to formal bid.

Hammonds said the school district is investigating capital improvement safety funding through the Department of Education and even a grant through the NBA.

“The gym floor is certainly a priority,” Hammonds said. “It’s a costly project. Any delay is not because of what’s going on in Monmouth, it’s because of budget constraints.”

Coffin, though comforted by selectmen’s assurances, said he still believes the withdrawal process has focused too much the financial impact.

“Through this withdrawal process we’re hearing a lot about the budget and taxes and whether we’re getting our fair share, but we’re not hearing a lot about the children,” Coffin said. “Right now a lot of us feel like it’s all about the money.”

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.