SABATTUS — The board of directors of Regional School Unit 4 voted unanimously Wednesday to negotiate a contract with CHA Architecture of Portland to begin designing an addition to Oak Hill Middle School.
The vote will set off a process of restructuring grades in four schools, both short term and long term, beginning in the fall:
Libby Tozier School in Litchfield will house prekindergarten and kindergarten.
Sabattus Primary School will house grades 1 and 2.
Carrie Ricker School in Litchfield will house grades 3 and 4.
Oak Hill Middle School in Sabattus will house grades 5 through 8.
Oak Hill High School in Wales will house grades 9 through 12.
Superintendent Andrew Carlton on Wednesday sent a letter explaining longer-term goals to the local school community.
“In the fall of 2021, the School Board will be voting on closing both Sabattus Primary School and Libby-Tozier school and then taking this to the community through referendum for approval,” Carlton wrote. “If the towns approve then we will be seeking a bond to build the addition to Oak Hill Middle School. Once completed, the configuration will be as follows: Carrie Ricker School will serve grades (prekindergarten to 2), Oak Hill Middle School (which will operate as two different schools in one) will serve grades 3-8, and Oak Hill High School will serve grades 9-12.
“While there are many reasons for this,” Carlton wrote, “it really boils down to two very important items. First, to put all of our students in grades (prekindergarten to 2) together in one building so that we can provide better educational opportunities for our students. While Sabattus Primary and Libby Tozier are amazing schools, operating two different (prekindergarten to 2) schools means that no matter what we do to make sure that all of our students have the opportunity to access the same educational opportunities — two different schools mean two different identities, with different cultures and traditions.”
Carlton said moving from five school buildings to three will reduce current and long-term costs of upgrading, maintaining, traveling to and operating the buildings.
Carlton also said the RSU 4 board is committed to returning students to in-school learning five days a week in the fall. The restructuring, he said, is a crucial part of that plan.
Further information can be found on the RSU 4 Website under the “Reorganization/Restructuring” tab.