RANDOLPH — Because the Gardiner-area school district has considered its space needs and the possibility of closing the elementary school in Randolph several times in the last decade, district officials have some of the information they need to consider the future of the Teresa C. Hamlin elementary school.

Over the next several months, members of an ad-hoc committee will collect more information to make a recommendation to the SAD 11 school board about whether the elementary school should close.

At the ad hoc committee’s first meeting Monday at the school, members started to consider what else they might need to do their work. The committee is made up of school district board members, administrators, teachers, parents and municipal officials.

“What’s our goal?” Matthew Drost, a Randolph selectman who serves on the committee, said. “Are we giving one option or more?”

“That depends on what we do,” SAD 11 Superintendent Patricia Hopkins said. “If we have two options, we’ll give two options.”

Nearly two dozen people gathered in an elementary classroom in Randolph to watch the committee’s work.

When the committee was formed, Hopkins said the public could watch but wouldn’t be permitted to comment during the meetings. Public comment is expected once a recommendation is made.

Ashleigh Champ, 35, was watching from the audience. The mother of three said she was disappointed she didn’t see many other parents at the meeting, and she hopes to see more when the committee next meets later this month.

Champ and her family had been living in Maryland, but when her husband retired from the military, they opted to move to Champ’s hometown and build a house.

The choice was intentional, she said. They wanted their children, ages 12, 5 and 1 to have the benefit of going to school in a small town.

“We live three minutes away from the school,” Champ said. “My 5-year-old has the same bus driver I had.”

So far, she’s hopeful about the process. “The kids come first,” she said, “but I know that money is also a concern.”

At the meeting, Hopkins detailed at least three other instances when district officials have considered space allocations across the district, including the possible closure of the school.

Over the coming weeks, the committee expects to consider demographic information for Randolph, which is the smallest town in the state by size, including the average age of homeowners in town, what the real estate sales have been and whether younger families — like the Champs’ — are moving to Randolph.

The Maine Department of Education website spells out what steps must be taken if a school board is recommending the closure of a school.

They include determining what shape the school being considered for closure is in and whether it would be replaced by a new building.

If school officials determine the school is not needed, they will have to develop a projection of the number of students in the next five years in the affected area as well as a projection of the educational programs they would need. Along with that, they will have to have to show how the affected students would be educated and develop projections for transportation and other programs. If any financial commitments tied to the school in question exist — debt service, for instance — they have to be disclosed. And district officials must also present the financial impact of closing the school building and have a statement of reasons for why the school building is being closed.

If the recommendation is to close the school, that decision would have to be made before the district’s budget planning is completed in the spring for the process to be set in motion for the next school year.

The decision to close the school requires the positive vote of a super-majority of the school board. If that threshold is reached, the matter would go to a referendum vote of Randolph residents.

Earlier this year, students in the combined second and third grade class were transferred out of the Randolph elementary school after the teacher left her job. District Superintendent Pat Hopkins has said no replacement teacher could be found.

That leaves 44 students in a school with a capacity of 155 and district officials with some questions to answer.

The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Nov. 27 at the school.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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