BINGHAM — Quimby Middle School, the only middle school in School Administrative District 13, is poised to close this summer after residents in Bingham and Moscow voted to no longer keep the school open Monday.

In Bingham, the measure passed 83- 71. In Moscow, residents approved the closure 84- 12.

The vote came as officials in Bingham-based SAD 13 have talked on and off since 2009 about closing the school that houses grades 4 through 6. The school board voted on the issue at least five times since December 2009.

“Just for the expense involved, it makes sense,” said Thomas Moore, a resident, former foreign language teacher in the district and former school board member, who voted in favor of the closure. “People complain about the taxes going up all the time, and then all they can think about is freezing the budget and freezing teacher salaries. It’s idiotic. You can’t get anywhere that way.”

Neither SAD 13 Superintendent Virginia Rebar nor Quimby Middle School Principal Lee Harper were available when a reporter called the district offices Tuesday.

“It’s a money saver,” said SAD 13 school board Chair Leo Hill, of Moscow. “Hopefully we can take that money and put it into the kids’ education rather than an aging building.”

The closure is scheduled to go into effect July 1. Officials have said previously that the decision to put the question before voters stems from a declining enrollment and the prospect of saving money by closing the school.

The current enrollment at Quimby Middle School is 45 students, but that number is expected to fall to 25 students by the 2023-2024 school year.

In the last eight years, total enrollment in the district has dropped from 254 students to 179.

The estimated cost savings of closing Quimby Middle School for 2019-2020 is $66,855.

Once the school is closed, the district plans to move grade 4 to Moscow Elementary School, and grades 5 and 6 will move to Upper Kennebec Valley Memorial Junior Senior High School, which currently houses grades 7 through 12.

“I want to make sure if we combine all the schools up to the high school that the high school won’t close,” said Diane Hartwell, a Bingham resident with three grandchildren in the district. “I’m worried about the high school closing, because I don’t want my kids to have to go out of town to go to high school. I’m thinking if they can just combine them all like (the Forest Hills Consolidated School in Jackman) does, then they won’t close it because all the kids will be in that one area.”

Hartwell said she voted to close Quimby Middle School because it would save money and there is enough space in the district’s other two schools. But she likes that her grandchildren are able to go to a small school locally.

“I don’t want them to have to go to Madison or (Carrabec High School in Anson) or anything like that,” she said. “I like the fact the kids can go to a smaller school. Sometimes at bigger schools, the kids get lost in the shuffle. I like the fact that we’ve had a lot of kids graduate here, and they end up being doctors, physical therapists. They’ve gotten a lot out of being in a small school, and they like it.”

“It doesn’t make sense to have it open with that few kids,” said Jordan Baker, another Bingham resident who voted in favor of the closure. “That’s my only reason. We have plenty of room in the other schools to put them.”

Hill, the school board chair, said some residents were against the closure because they either went to school there themselves and didn’t want to see it close or they liked the idea of a school building in a centralized location in Bingham.

There are no plans yet for what will be done with the building.

“There’s an opportunity to do something good with it,” he said. “Whether it’s independent business or whatever, hopefully the town can find something to do in that building, and maybe it will bring in a few jobs. If we had more jobs, maybe we would have the people to support a third school.”

 

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368
[email protected] 
Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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