GARDINER — After years of discussion, Regional School Unit 11 could finally resolve issues of crowding at some schools and unused space at others.

Talk of closing T.C. Hamlin School in Randolph, the district’s smallest elementary school, has arisen several times in the past decade. Superintendent Pat Hopkins said that has created uncertainty that’s unfair to people in the district, and school officials need to make a decision.

T.C. Hamlin has 97 students in an aging school built for 155, and 30 of those students are in prekindergarten, there only half a day.

Meanwhile, new construction in West Gardiner has pushed enrollment at Helen Thompson School to 288, above the building’s capacity of 260. Hopkins said the former art room there has been divided to form two classrooms, and storage space has been converted to offices.

At a school board workshop on Thursday, the board and members of the public will hear about reconfiguration ideas and research that emerged from three public meetings earlier this year. At 6:30 p.m., in the Little Theatre at Gardiner Area High School, Hopkins will present information about nine options, including leaving the schools the way they are.

“There is no silver bullet solution. There are pros and cons to every single proposal,” Hopkins said. “There is a trade-off, and the question will have to be what’s the better trade-off.”


RSU 11 consists of Gardiner, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner. It has 2,102 students, down from 2,225 five years ago, but enrollment has moved in different directions at the district’s seven schools.

Some reconfiguration options to be presented Thursday are moderate, while others are more radical. They include:

• Close the central office in Gardiner and move it to T.C. Hamlin, along with all prekindergarten programs.

• Close T.C. Hamlin and move students to Gardiner’s two elementary schools, Laura E. Richards School and River View Community School.

• Close T.C. Hamlin and move students to Pittston Consolidated School. There is not enough space at Pittston, so modular classrooms would be needed.

• Move fifth grade to the middle school.


• Move eighth grade to the high school.

• Move prekindergarten to the high school.

• Build a consolidated elementary school for Pittston and Randolph.

• Build a single preK-5 school for the entire district. With about 1,000 students, it would be the largest elementary school in the state.

Any construction would probably have to be done with local money only. In the last round of the state’s school construction program, Pittston Consolidated School landed at No. 47 on the funding priority list, and T.C. Hamlin is at No. 57.

School board Chairwoman Becky Fles, who represents Gardiner, said she came away from the community input meetings with strong impressions of the desire that people in the district have for neighborhood schools and residents’ wish that the school board would just make a decision about the district’s configuration.

Because of time, budget limitations and the complications of issues like transportation and staffing, the school board may not be able to find a long-term solution this year. Long term or not, she said they will look for the least expensive option that also provides students with a good education.

“Because of our shrinking population, my concern is that we also have shrinking resources,” Fles said. “An easy decision is not available to us.”

Susan McMillan — 621-5645[email protected]Twitter: @s_e_mcmillan

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