RANDOLPH — Voters in Randolph on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to endorse the decision by the Gardiner-area school district board to close the town’s elementary school.

When the polls closed, 268 had voted yes, and 15 had voted no.

“There’s not enough kids to keep the school open,” resident Bertha Sirois said when she went to cast her vote Tuesday evening.

That sentiment was echoed by other voters who went to the Randolph Town Hall to have their say.

The consequences of their votes were spelled out on the ballot.

If residents voted no, Randolph taxpayers would be on the hook to pay about $453,000 annually on top of what they already pay in taxes to support the school district to keep the Teresa C. Hamlin School open.

Bob and Gina Morgan, who have lived in Randolph about four years, said they were mindful of the effect of keeping the school open would have on their taxes. As senior citizens, they are on a fixed income.

By early evening, about 20 percent of the town’s 1,298 registered voters had voted, and residents were still arriving at the Town Hall.

Not all voters wished to be identified, and some, like Dan Middleton, said only that it was important to come out to vote.

The referendum is one of the final steps in a process spelled out in state law when districts consider closing schools. The school board is expected to meet in an emergency meeting at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday in the school district’s administrative office to accept the results of the referendum and to sign a contract with Schiavi Homes for a modular classroom unit.

The modular unit is expected to be set up at the Pittston Consolidated School to accommodate the children who will be transferred there after the Randolph school closes. District residents learned earlier this month the delivery of that unit might be delayed, perhaps as much as six or seven weeks into the upcoming school year. To start construction, company officials have said they need a signed contract, which cannot be done until after the vote.

While district officials have considered closing the school in the past, they have never taken that step.

This time, however, officials made a different decision.

Shortly after the start of the school year, the departure of a teacher from the Randolph elementary school multi-level class triggered the transfer of students in that class and some of their siblings to the Pittston Consolidated School about a mile away. That left about 40 students in an elementary school that has a capacity for 155.

Starting last fall, an ad hoc committee of the Gardiner-area school board met to consider the options for the school and the use of space within the district.

Over the course of about two months, the committee worked through a range of information, including Randolph’s demographics, the shrinking enrollment in the district and the district’s philosophy of having local elementary schools in each of the district’s member towns. While those meetings were public, the committee did not take or seek public comment.

In January, the committee — made up of school board members, school district administrators, school staff members, parents and Randolph elected officials — recommended closing the school.

In March, after a public forum held by the district and public hearing held by the Randolph Board of Selectmen, the board voted to close the school.

During the process, parents and residents in both Randolph and Pittston questioned the district’s decision not to allow comments during the ad hoc committee meetings and not to include Pittston in the discussion until later in the process.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ