On Tuesday afternoon students inside the Wellington School in Monticello are busy finishing up the day’s work. Each classroom is filled with brightly colored decorations and learning tools..but in what could be the near future, these rooms will be empty. The school board voted Monday night to close the school for good.
“It’s bittersweet…we’re a small community school, we’re very community oriented, we love this school, we’ve put a lot of effort into our students,” said teaching principal Cindy Peterson.
She says the decision was made because of declining enrollment and the tough economic times. There’s no timeline yet for when the school will close, it will either be at the end of this school year or the next. That’s up to the state.
“It’s a sad situation..this has kind of been our little treasure up here,” said RSU 29 chool board member Jennifer Johnston.
There are 66 students that go to school there. On Tuesday night each of them went home with a letter Peterson wrote to their parents and guardians explaining what happened at the school board meeting and what the next steps will be. Some kids have already talked about what’s going to happen to their school.
“They don’t want it to close,” said Peterson.
Not only has school board member Jennifer Johnston put two kids in this school, she went here herself years ago.
“We were just looking at a scrapbook in there and seeing my basketball team and cheerleading team and spelling bee and lots of memories,” she said.
Peterson says both staff and students will transition to Houlton Elementary School..Superintendent Mike Hammer says they’ll work on adding portables and figuring out bussing in the near future.
“I know there’s a lot of logistics…I believe we can take care of them..but I guess that’s my worry I want to know which way I’m going..do I have a year to plan or do I have three months?” said Hammer.
“We’re a family here so if we can go through that together that would be great,” said Peterson.
On a positive note – Peterson says this will help students learn to adapt, and she’s confident they’ll blossom, just in a different environment. Peterson says there is a ten day window where parents can contact the town office with their concerns about closing the school. Voters in Monticello could still vote to keep it open but they town would have to pay for it.
Town Office: 538-9500