Lincoln County News | Newcastle, ME
Wednesday, November 25, 2015 Serving Maine and Lincoln County for over a century. Volume 140 Issue 48


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8/20/2014 2:00:00 PM
Wiscasset School Board Plans November Vote on School Closure
By Kathy Onorato

Wiscasset School Department interim Superintendent Lyford Beverage released a memo Aug. 17 to the Wiscasset School Board that outlines the necessity and feasibility of closing one of Wiscasset's three schools and identifies the Wiscasset Middle School as the likely choice for closure.

Wiscasset School Board Chairman Steve Smith said it is imperative for members of the community to become involved in the discussion. He encourages residents to attend the board's Aug. 28 meeting. Smith said the board plans on voting on a school closure in September, which will allow for a townwide vote, planned for November.

"And since closing a school is a community decision requiring a formal town vote, the Wiscasset School Committee will enter into a formal dialogue involving the community in order to make a wise and satisfactory recommendation," according to Beverage's memo.

The memo released by Beverage this week comes after months of school board discussions and tours of all three Wiscasset schools. The memo reports that all three schools are under-utilized and efforts need to be made to reduce the cost of education, including planning to consolidate Wiscasset students into two schools.

"Right now the School Board is leaning toward closing the Wiscasset Middle School and moving the fifth and sixth grade to the primary school and the seventh and eighth grades to the high school," Smith said in a letter to the editor of The Lincoln County News. "This will affect the least amount of our kids and teachers and it will be much easier and more cost-effective to make changes to the primary school than the middle school."

Wiscasset Primary School, built in 1973, is the town's newest facility and currently serves students in grades K-4. Its enrollment peaked at 271 students in 1995 and has dropped to an estimated 172 for the 2014-2015 school year, representing a nearly 70 percent decline over the last 20 years.

The Wiscasset Middle School was originally built in 1951, with renovations in 1968 and 2004. The school had an enrollment in 1990 of 220 students and is estimated to have 162 students for the upcoming school year.

Wiscasset High School was built in 1961 with an addition built in 1974. In 1998, the school's enrollment peaked at 448 students. Enrollment has steadily declined since that time and the school is expected to have an enrollment of 210 to begin the 2014-2015 school year.

It is estimated that Wiscasset High School is currently being used at 46 percent of capacity and could accommodate an additional 200 students, according to the memo. There are 85 students in grades seven and eight.

"The primary school is suitable for all Wiscasset students, grades K-6. Minimal internal changes will be necessary to accommodate the addition of grades five and six, and there is currently an abundance of furniture and equipment at the site, which can be returned to active service," according to the memo.

The memo also suggests the middle school could accommodate all K-8 students, however, the transition of five grades to the school would be more challenging and, based on a study completed in 1990, the middle school would require considerable renovations to accommodate K-8 students.

"These recommendations included bathroom work, playground work, classroom renovations, handicap accessibility, stairway safety concerns, parking lot improvements, and additional costly alterations. A recent conversation with the architect who performed the survey elicited the recommendation to close the middle school," according to the memo.

Questions about the school closure plan can be directed to Smith at 882-6450, 208-9712 or; or Beverage at 882-4104 or

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