A meeting of the Gardiner-area school board, at which members were expected to vote on whether to close the T.C. Hamlin School in Randolph, has been postponed.

The meeting had been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, but Patricia Hopkins, superintendent of School Administrative District 11, said it will have to be delayed because the district’s attorney doesn’t have the information he was expected to bring to the meeting.

When it was first scheduled, the board members were expected to hear a presentation by William Stockmeyer, the district’s attorney, on outstanding bonds on the Randolph school, and an update by Andrea Disch, the district business manager, on the projected savings as determined by the state Board of Education that the district would see if the board votes to close the school.

“It’s very complicated and unprecedented,” Hopkins said. “And people are taking longer to get back to him than expected.”

Hopkins said the meeting will not be rescheduled until the information the board is seeking has been gathered.

At the same time, Randolph’s three selectmen have signed a letter recapping the sentiments of town residents gathered at a public hearing in Randolph two weeks ago, including whether the committee that recommended the school’s closure had enough information about the savings the closure would represent.

“Although it would be difficult to capture the feeling of each Randolph resident or concerned community member,” the letter reads in part, “one common recommendation continued to be offered — keeping the school open for at least an additional year will accomplish many goals including paying one additional penalty free year on bond debt, allowing the Town of Randolph to position itself to accept the school if offered, to allow the School Board to receive information and input from other Towns and then make a sound decision about the education of our students perhaps without the use of modular units.”

Last fall, district officials said they were considering whether to close the school when the number of students enrolled dropped to about 44. A teacher hired to teach the combined second and third grade class left not long after the school year started. When district officials could not find a replacement, the students in that class, as were siblings in other grades in some cases, were transferred to Pittston.

The school board created an ad hoc committee, made up of school district administrators, board members and employees as well as Randolph parents and elected officials to look at the district’s options with the school.

Among the information they considered is the status of bonds this district had issued to pay for repairs and upgrades to buildings in the district, including the Randolph school, and whether any of them could be paid off early without penalty.

They also considered the amount of savings closing the school would represent to the district. Under the school closure process spelled out in state law, if the board decides to close the school, a referendum vote would be scheduled for Randolph residents. If voters overturn the school board’s decision, paying the cost of keeping the school open would fall to Randolph residents in addition to what they already pay in their property taxes to the school district.

In early January, that committee recommended closing the school to the full school board and sending the students remaining there to the Pittston Consolidated School, which is a little more than a mile away. To accommodate the relocated students, the district would install a modular classroom building at the Pittston elementary school, which would add four classrooms, two bathrooms and office space.

Parents in both Randolph and Pittston have been concerned about what impact closing the school would have on their children, and they brought those concerns to a forum put on by the district at the end of January and to a public hearing in Randolph earlier this month.

David Cobb, whose daughter attends T.C. Hamlin, said everybody’s frustrated by the process, which did not include public input during the series of ad hoc meetings.

Cobb said a number of questions remain unresolved, and he was unhappy the district’s decision to hold Monday’s meeting for the final vote at the Gardiner Middle School and not in Randolph.

“If they are going to have a vote,” he said, “hold it in Randolph, so people can come out and participate.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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