RANDOLPH — The committee tasked with considering the future of the T.C. Hamlin School in Randolph voted Monday to recommend closing the building at the end of this school year and sending the school’s 44 students to the Pittston Consolidated School starting next year.

That recommendation now goes to the full School Administrative District 11 board, which will meet Thursday.

District Superintendent Patricia Hopkins said she’s not sure whether the board will take action then or seek more information.

The decision by the ad hoc committee, made up of SAD 11 officials, school administrators, parents, Randolph elected officials and members of the school board, comes after its members considered the needs of the students, the teachers and the district in a series of meetings since October.

Chad Kempton, who is the principal of the Gardiner Area High School and a Randolph resident, offered the recommendation Monday during Monday’s meeting.

Kempton said closing the elementary school improves the situation for students and teachers by reducing their isolation, and helps the school district freeing up at least $250,000 in the first year and more in subsequent years.

The recommendation didn’t draw the unanimous support of the committee.

Dotty Hinckley, administrative assistant at the Hamlin School was one of two committee members of the 11 present who voted against closing the school.

“I don’t want to be part of closing a community school even though it’s a part of the district,” Hinckley said. “There are too many unanswered questions.”

Among them, she said, is how parents and students in Pittston feel about the change.

If the board takes the committee recommendation, the matter will then go to a vote of Randolph residents. If the residents vote to keep the school open, the town would be required to pay annually for the estimated $374,000 in savings that the district would forgo in addition to the school district’s assessment on their property taxes.

The committee has weighed a variety of factors since it first started meeting in October about the future of the Randolph elementary school including Randolph’s demographics, projections about enrollment in coming years and whether the school could be used for a regional service center for several area districts or ought to be sold outright.

On Monday, the committee focused on two options: transferring Randolph students to the Pittston Consolidated School a little more than a mile away and adding a modular classroom building there for the near future, or realigning the grades so all students would attend early elementary grades in one school and later elementary grades in the other.

The committee favored the first option, which represents savings for the district. The second option was expected to have higher costs due to additional transportation requirements.

At the start of the meeting, Hopkins spent a few minutes addressing concerns that have surfaced in the community about the future of the elementary school.

Hopkins said it’s not true that she and school administrators tried to reduce enrollment at T.C. Hamlin to drive the closure of the school. Following the departure of a teacher of a combined grade early in the school year, the students in that class were sent to Pittston along with, in some cases, their siblings. That left just 44 students in a school intended for 155.

“I made the recommendation to disperse those students, and I stand by that recommendation,” she said. “It was the best decision for the students.”

Other questions have focused on the whether the infrastructure at the Pittston school, which is older than the Randolph school, could accommodate additional students. District officials said it can.

Like many other school districts across Maine, SAD 11 has experienced declining enrollment, prompting district officials to take a look at how space is used it its schools. This is not the first time that district officials have considered closing T.C. Hamlin. At least one earlier review resulted in the school board overriding the recommendation to close.

Monday’s meeting was rescheduled from December, when it was canceled due to the weather.

The district has videotaped the meetings and posts them on YouTube.

While the meetings have been public, no public comment was accepted.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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