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Officials consider closing New Sweden School

NEW SWEDEN, Maine — The New Sweden Selectmen and the town’s school committee held a meeting on Jan. 31 in which the possibility of school closure was discussed, according to minutes provided by the town office.

Meeting minutes state that New Sweden School Committee Chair Michael Stotler informed Selectmen that Union 122 officials were considering closure as an option, which would result in area students being transported to Woodland Consolidated School.

Both Stotler and Union 122 Superintendent Karla Michaud confirmed that existing students would go to Woodland in the event of closure.

Reasons for building closure include significant decreases in preK-8 enrollment, the current population of 56 (which includes 38 New Sweden residents) is predicted to fall to 41 next year, with projections from the board showing a continual decline.

Additionally, repairs to the roof, heating/ventilation/air conditioning system, and appliances were cited as a reason for closure, with roof repairs alone estimated to cost approximately $100,000.

According to the minutes, a school committee member asked why the budget committee was not asked to attend. Selectman Sven Bonderson stated that as municipal officers, the Selectmen needed to be made aware first and that, if needed, a discussion with the budget committee would be held once numbers were available.

Before adjourning at 6 p.m., the school committee and superintendent asked for everyone’s courtesy in not telling anyone about the matter until further discussions with staff occur. Those present at the meeting concurred that this was a fair request.

New Sweden’s budget will be discussed in further detail during a Thursday, Feb. 9 meeting with the school committee at 6 p.m. in the New Sweden school building. This meeting will include discussion of balancing the budget, which includes the possibility of school closure.

The Jan. 31 meeting minutes state that officials will make a decision and vote on school closure during the Feb. 9 meeting. If the vote favors closure, the matter will be brought to Selectmen and presented at a town meeting in which members of the public can vote via referendum.

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