Winslow residents voted down a controversial bond at the polls Tuesday, with 1,258 people voting against the proposal and 1,056 people voting for it.

The proposed $10.33 million bond included funds to build a performing arts center and workspace for students involved in music and theater, which some opponents saw as unnecessary. It also would have expanded the high school to allow the district to consolidate as Winslow schools, which are part of Alternative Organizational Structure 92, move forward with the plan to close Winslow Junior High School, moving seventh- and eighth-graders to the high school and sixth-graders to the elementary school.

Town councilors were divided over the issue and just barely passed the bond question on to residents in a 4-3 vote in August. Councilors Ken Fletcher, Ben Twitchell and Jerry Quirion voted against the proposal, citing concerns over taking on too much debt that could result in a tax rate increase. Councilors who supported the project — Raymond Caron, Steve Russell, Jeff West and Patricia West — argued that it was the best option for students and that Winslow needs to keep its education facilities competitive to grow its tax base.

A number of councilors also said that the public should have the chance to vote on the issue. The council was hoping for a “clear mandate” from voters as to what they thought of the issue.

Officials have said they would go through the planning process again if the bond failed. They also may survey residents to see how large a project they are willing to take on.

The proposed project, designed by Portland architect Stephen Blatt, would have added 20,000 square feet to the end of the high school for classrooms and support space specifically for the younger grades. It also added parking spaces and renovated space at the elementary school. The most controversial piece of the project was the proposed performing arts center, which would have cost just under $3 million and seat 600 people. Blatt also designed renovated space for students in band, chorus and stage design to work near the new center.


The bond also included $650,000 for possible demolition costs if the town doesn’t find another use for the junior high school. The town has formed a committee that plans to request proposals to re-imagine and renovate the building.

The consolidation process began in 2012, when a study committee began looking for feasible solutions for the hazards presented by the junior high school, which was built in 1928. The school board has voted to close the building by 2019, but may need to extend the deadline to accommodate another bond approval process.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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