WINSLOW — The Town Council discussed forming a committee to once again look at how best to consolidate the Winslow schools at a meeting Monday evening, where about 25 people attended.

The discussion came after the $10.33 million school bond failed at the polls on Nov. 7.

The original bond included funds to build a performing arts center and renovate workspace for students involved in music and theater, which some opponents saw as unnecessary.

It also would have expanded the high school and renovated the elementary 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.

The Town Council just barely sent the bond question to voters after a 4-3 vote in August. Monday evening, they were still divided as some argued to form a new committee while others said the council should send the issue back to the previous building committee, along with guidelines.

Councilors Ben Twitchell and Jerry Quirion handed out a proposal to create a new building committee, composed of three school board members, three town councilors and three community members who are not employed by the school. The committee would be assisted by a seven-member advisory committee made up of school administrators and employees.


Any formation of a new committee will have to be taken up by the school board, which meets next on Monday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m.

It would look at three options: the previously proposed construction split, adding a wing to the elementary school to accommodate K-8 grades, or renting space at St. John Regional Catholic School. The estimates would come from multiple firms and bids would go out to multiple architects, according to their proposals.

However, some councilors disagreed with the idea of forming a new committee.

“I think there has been a lot of good work that’s been done,” said Councilor Ray Caron. “I think the current building committee is in the best position to make the decision.”

Caron and Councilor Patricia West both represented the council on the building committee.

Caron said they can move forward more efficiently using the current committee that is well-versed on the issue, and they can add at-large members if the council feels it’s necessary. He also recommended that the council give the committee guidelines, as it was “too vague” beforehand.


West also questioned whether the council could make this decision, as only the school board has the authority to dissolve the current building committee.

Councilor Ken Fletcher said the current building committee wouldn’t be erased, but could be moved to the position of “advisory” or “leadership” committee, at which point a number of people in the audience laughed and had to be silenced.

During public discussion, acting superintendent Peter Thiboutot addressed the issue of a K-8 model. Thiboutot took most of the minutes of the committee meetings, and said that cost was approaching $12 million before gym renovations.

He asked that the council acknowledge those who have worked on the committee “by letting them be a part of it.”

School board member Joel Selwood spoke about the importance of educating the public and also trying to find out what people think rather than making assumptions about what they do and don’t value.

Others, like Phil St. Onge, said it would be a mistake to send the issue back to the same committee.


“Elections have consequences,” he said.

Some residents said they thought the committee did a good job, but it didn’t involve the community enough.

Nancy Alder spoke in agreement with others that senior residents should have been more involved.

There were a number of other committee members who spoke at the meeting as well.

Mary Beth Bourgoin, a teacher and building committee member, said she was upset by the lack of respect the committee and school officials received from some councilors.

She also pointed out that every student needs a fine arts credit to graduate in Maine, and that the district needs a larger auditorium for its sold out events. To return the plan to a new committee would be “disrespectful and disingenuous.”


“The real losers in this race and this bond were the kids,” she said.

The school board has voted to close the junior high building by 2019, as officials say the building poses safety hazards to the students. It’s unclear if the closing date will have to be extended at this time.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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