Tonight an informational meeting is being held for the public in the towns of St. John, St. Francis, and Allagash on the possibility of the St. Francis elementary school closing. And as News Source 8’s Angela Christoforos reports, it’s all due to a shortfall in the school districts budget, and some people feel that closing the school is not the right answer…
It’s a small school, that’s been in the heart of the St. Francis community since 1965. Thirty two students grades pre-k to 4 attend St. Francis Elementary as of today; but those days could be numbered.
AOS 95 Superintendent of Schools Tim Doak said, “It comes down to the loss of enrollment. Projection next year is only 2 kids in Pre-K, 3 kids in kindergarten, we have 2 kids in our 3rd grade currently and 3 kids in our 4th grade.”
The SAD 27 school district is facing a budget shortfall of 1.8 million dollars. There’s been an substantial overall loss of enrollment across the whole district, and out of four elementary schools in the district, St. Francis is the smallest.
According to district administrators closing St. Francis would save close to $200,000. If St. Francis elementary does close, school superintendent Tim Doak says it’s students will be taken to school in Fort Kent by bus instead.
Pre-K kindergarten teacher at St. Francis Elementary Colleen McBreairty said, “Half the school is from Allagash and that’s a 72 mile a day trip, 3 hours on a bus for 3 and 5 year-olds in the winter time when the roads are slippery, they’re meeting log trucks, it’s a safety issue.”
“The biggest issue out there will be the transportation piece, but I also think that we have an idea how to fix that so the bus ride won’t be as long,” said Doak.
The school board will be taking a vote on the school closure at Wednesday night’s board meeting, and if the board does vote to close the school, the vote will then be turned over the town to determine whether the school will be forced to close its doors or not.
First and Second Grade teacher at St. Francis Elementary Crystal Jandreau said,
” It’s just unfortunate when a town has to make the decision as to whether or not to close their school, their school is the heart of the community especially when it’s a small town like this.”
In addition to the potential closing of St. Francis elementary school, 10% of staff across the SAD 27 school district will be reduced, which means close to 20 positions in the district will be cut.