The Maine School Administrative District 40 School Board gave unanimous support at its Jan. 7 meeting to keep all current elementary schools open and not pursue a feasibility study on potentially closing a school.

To start the meeting at Medomak Middle School, board Chairman Bonnie Davis Micue asked the 40 parents, community members and students in attendance to raise their hand if they were in favor of closing a school. One man raised his hand. Many were there in support of Prescott Memorial School in Washington and Friendship Village School. In recent weeks, many people said they were concerned about the fate of those two village schools.

Micue said, however, that the administration and the school board were only trying to fulfill informational requests about potential savings. It is the board’s job to have this information, she said.

“There has never been an agenda item to bring forth recommendations to close a community school,” Micue said.

Superintendent Francis Boynton presented the findings from a quick look at elementary school costs and potential savings. The five-day project was not a formal study, he said.

Boynton outlined the costs of building operations for the elementary schools. They are: Friendship Village School, $108,940; Prescott Memorial School, $109,277; Union Elementary School, $166,927; Warren Community School, $273,186; and Miller Elementary School, $242,409. Boynton said 40 percent of those costs would be transferred to another location.

Potential staffing changes from closing a school — a reduction in a library aid, administration, and two to three teaching positions — could yield $150,000 to $200,000, Boynton said.

Boynton’s presentation also included several examples of increased costs that would come from closing a school. Transportation costs would increase, and young students could spend up to two hours on a bus. The purchase or lease of temporary classroom space would cost tens of thousands of dollars. Parking concerns would come along with traffic and safety considerations. And, in the case of Friendship Village School, the district would lose $147,000 in state funding because the school is several miles away from another facility.

“I do not think this is the time to look at closing of schools,” Boynton said, and this was his recommendation to the board.

Boynton also encouraged the board to look at the district as a whole, not just at small schools. He talked about the place of small schools in a community.

“I have had the pleasure of spending time in the schools and spending time with the nice folks there and at select board meetings and I’ve found a lot of pride in these schools and towns,” Boynton said. “That’s something that you can’t take away from the students and the community. I think those things are very important to this.”

Bob Butler, a Waldoboro selectman, was the man who raised his hand at the beginning of the meeting. He encouraged the board to move forward with a study conducted by an outside party. He said the study could produce unique solutions. Butler said during the last five years the school district budget has remained the same while there have been changes in the district.

School board member Gail Hawes of Union disagreed, and said the district budget has changed drastically in her six years on the board. She said if the district wants to save money, it can close all the elementary schools and build one big complex. But that is not what board members are there to do, she said. Hawes said she would not support a feasibility study that looks at cost alone.

School board member Francis Cross of Waldoboro took umbrage with the characterization that Waldoboro wants to close small schools. He said he was shocked to hear this. Cross was a longtime teacher and administrator. He said he is on the school board to get people together to support schools.

“The communities need those schools,” Cross said.

Ron Dolloff also spoke passionately about his position on community schools. He helped establish the school district, and said he will continue to support the schools.

Dana Dow said he was the one to originally ask questions about closing schools.

“I wanted the information and now I have it,” Dow said.

Dow said after hearing the superintendent’s report he did not see the need for a feasibility study. He said closing schools is only one of many controversial issues he will raise. Others may include crossing town lines to move students in and out of schools and reducing the credits needed to graduate from Medomak Valley High School, he said.

Dow moved to accept the superintendent’s recommendation to support the current elementary schools and not do a study. The school board vote to do so was unanimous.

In closing the issue for the night, Micue said taxpayers are always in the back of the minds of school board members, but the school board is responsible for the children.

“This board, as you can see, is thoroughly committed to keeping the schools open,” Micue said,

The superintendent’s presentation on closing schools also included information on enrollment and assessments.

The present elementary enrollment is: Friendship Village School, 96; Prescott Memorial School, 114; Union Elementary School, 132; Miller Elementary School, 339; and Warren Community School, 334.

The present enrollment by town of residence, not school attended, is: Friendship, 78; Washington, 100; Union, 140; Waldoboro, 361; and Warren, 313. There are 18 students with multiple residences.

The current per pupil assessments, which are what towns are assessed under the state formula, are: Friendship, $10,433; Washington, $6,004; Union, $6,663; Waldoboro, $6,169; and Warren, $5,243.