GARDINER — It probably won’t be part of the 2013-14 budget, but closing T.C. Hamlin School in Randolph is likely to be considered for the following year.

At a meeting of the finance committee of Regional School Unit 11, administrators and some school board members said operating five elementary schools is hurting the district financially.

“I personally feel pretty hog-tied by all the buildings that we have,” said Board Chairwoman Becky Fles, a representative from Gardiner.

A package of budget reductions presented to the school board by administrators would eliminate first grade at Hamlin and send those students to Pittston Central School next year. Those students would continue at Pittston thereafter, Superintendent Pat Hopkins said.

Tyler Trott, a school board member from Randolph, said that change already puts Hamlin on the path to closing eventually. He said it could make sense to close Hamlin for 2014-15 and move fifth-grade students to Gardiner Regional Middle School.

Hopkins said administrators have suggested reconfiguring grades throughout the district so the schools serve grades kindergarten though grade 4, grades 5 to 7 and grades 8 to 12. RSU 11 consists of Gardiner, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner.

Trott said the district should examine the use of all its buildings and make sure to take plenty of input from parents. He said the move to close Pray Street School in Gardiner happened too quickly.

Hamlin School, which is pre-kindergarten through grade 5, has 104 students; and the kindergarten-through-grade 5 Pittston Consolidated School is below capacity by 25 students.

The governor’s proposed biennial budget requires property owners to pay a higher tax rate and reduces the state subsidy for RSU 11. Therefore, though the administrators’ requested budget would raise district spending by only 3.4 percent. The assessment on local taxpayers would rise by 13.1 percent, or $1.1 million.

On Thursday, Hopkins and Business Manager Andrea Disch presented an adjusted budget with $411,909 in spending reductions and $150,000 taken from the district fund balance.

The adjusted budget would pass along an increase of $495,487 to local taxpayers, or 6.1 percent.

Several school board members said they don’t think voters would approve that budget, but some were in favor of presenting it to voters anyway.

Deborah Holmes, a board member from Gardiner, said she feels further cuts would hurt students, and she wants to explain to taxpayers that the budget increase is a result of state-level decisions.

“I think unless we do that, people assume that there’s all kinds of fat in our budget and we can cut all kinds of stuff out of it,” Holmes said.

Gardiner board member Eric Jermyn, chairman of the finance committee, asked Hopkins and Disch to come up with an additional $150,000 to $200,000 in cuts.

The package of reductions discussed Thursday included staffing cuts, including the first-grade teacher at Hamlin, the librarian at Hamlin, a kindergarten teacher at Laura E. Richards School in Gardiner, an instructional coach and an English teacher at Gardiner Area High School.

Many of the reductions discussed are less than $10,000. One of those is to save $3,000 on electricity by playing some football games during the day on Saturdays instead of on Friday nights.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]

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.