The Albert S. Hall School currently houses Waterville’s fourth- and fifth-graders. Once those grades move to a new wing at the junior high school next year, the adult education and alternative education director feels the building would make a nice community space that could house her programs and allow space for municipal meetings. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — Imagine the vacated Albert S. Hall School building on Pleasant Street transformed into a beautiful community space that also houses the adult education and alternative education schools, a large meeting room for the City Council and Planning Board and other community needs.

Hannah Bard, director of both adult education and alternative education for Waterville Public Schools, asked the Waterville Board of Education to consider such a scenario.

“I can just see the opportunities blossoming,” Bard said.

Fourth- and fifth-graders from the Hall School will be moved to a new $6.12 million addition to Waterville Junior High School in the fall of next year. The addition will be a separate entity that will retain the Albert S. Hall School name, though the students will use some facilities in the junior high building itself.

Superintendent Eric Haley said that the alternative education school now occupying space in the Children’s Home for Little Wanderers on Silver Street must move at the end of the school year, at the request of the Children’s Home.

Bard took over as alternative education director in late June when Pam Mattos retired from that position, and now Bard wears two hats, including that of adult education director. Adult education classes are held at Waterville Senior High School, though it has an entrance of its own there.

Bard made a passionate plea to the school board Monday to consider her proposal for the Pleasant Street building. The space at alternative education does not meet the school’s needs and combining adult education and alternative education on Pleasant Street would open up a lot of opportunity, not only for the students but also for the community, Bard said.

“One of them is that I see this as a beautiful community space,” she said.

The building would be open during the day and evening for classes and community meetings. Some seniors do not want to drive at night in the dark, so they could attend in the daytime, Bard said.

She said officials want to visit other alternative education schools in Maine and explore the best models so as to improve and enhance the program. Some alternative education students have to work and being close to the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, which helps the students, would be a benefit, according to Bard. She said the gymnasium at the Pleasant Street school would also give students an opportunity to get physical activity.

“I wish that our students had that opportunity every day, to go to a gym,” she said.

She said those students don’t have a library and the Pleasant Street building would offer them one. The building also has enough space to enable the school to have an art room with a kiln and work with the arts organization Waterville Creates, she said.

“We want more community involvement, and being that close allows us to have that community involvement,” she said.

Bard said local elections could be held in the building and the students would be able to take part and learn about civics. She described what alternative education does as “magic and wonder.”

“I think these kids deserve it, I think this community deserves it, and I’m really concerned about where these kids are going to end up a year from now,” she said.

Board Chairperson Joan Phillips-Sandy suggested forming a study committee to look at Bard’s proposal. She said she thinks at least one and maybe two students should serve on the committee. A school board member or two also should serve, according to Phillips-Sandy.

“I am definitely interested,” she said.

Bard said she would welcome having such a committee look at the idea.

“Being able to have this study and being able to have a student representative is absolutely imperative,” she said.

Haley said earlier in the day Monday that the school board also could use the meeting space at the Pleasant Street building.

“It’s really endless what the possibilities are for both the city and the schools,” he said.

In other matters, the board  accepted resignations, one of which was from Doug Frame, who served briefly as facilities/maintenance director for Waterville schools after having been assistant principal at the junior high. Frame has found employment elsewhere, according to Haley.

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