MSAD 27 officials postpone decision on fate of St. Francis Elementary School
FORT KENT – On Aug. 18, at an MSAD 27 school board meeting at the Fort Kent Community High School, district officials met with the public and decided to wait until January 2015 to determine the future of the St. Francis Elementary School. For years, board members have considered closing the school, which has faced elimination due to funding issues and falling enrollment.
The later date will provide citizens who want the SFES to remain open, with an opportunity to secure funding and state their case for the elementary school's continued operation. A group of concerned citizens has enacted the Facebook page "Save St. Francis School," which aims to gain support for the school's survival. St. Francis resident Manda Kelly is a member of the group and wants the school to remain open.
"I have a 5 year old in the school. I live in St. Francis and I just dread thinking about putting my son on the bus to go to Fort Kent in the winter. I know a lot of people think it's stupid but the ride is not nice. I cannot imagine it, plus I really like our school," she said.
The school currently has 32 students and employs three teachers, one ed-tech, a secretary, full-time cook and bus driver/janitor, according to MSAD 27 Superintendent Timothy Doak.
"We've kind of tabled the issue of closing the school but we will be meeting with some representatives from the St. Francis community to look at how we can possibly save some funds to try to keep the school open," Doak said.
Doak added that if the school were to close, he would like to see a reasonable degree of notification for students, parents, and employees.
"It's very hard to close a school in May. I am not in favor of going up to a community in May and telling them we are going to close their school. The school board is making their best effort to address this and [if SFES should close] this is a more honorable way," Doak said.
An additional meeting between citizens of St. Francis and school officials regarding the fate of SFES will take place on Thursday, Aug. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the St. Francis Senior Center.
(CORRECTION - Previously, Fiddlehead Focus had incorrectly reported that the upcoming meeting between citizens and school officials took place at the Fort Kent Senior Center. Upon further investigation, we discovered the meeting will actually take place at the St. Francis Senior Center. We apologize for this error, and regret any confusion it may have caused.)
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