RAYMOND – Emotions ran high Wednesday night as the school board for Raymond and Windham heard sharp criticism of a proposal that would close Raymond’s Jordan-Small Middle School.

More than 200 residents packed the Raymond Elementary School gymnasium to oppose the cost-cutting proposal to close Jordan-Small and convert Raymond Elementary School to kindergarten through grade 8.

The Regional School Unit 14 board decided on Nov. 3 to move forward with the proposal. The change would save the district an estimated $774,439 in the next five years but would require major renovations to the elementary school.

The school board heard more than two hours of testimony from residents opposing the plan. The crowd raised concerns about overcrowding, grouping kindergartners with eighth-graders, and having inadequate facilities at the elementary school.

Holly Mitchell of Tenny Hill Road, whose son is in fourth grade at the elementary school, urged the board not to rush its decision. “I am not encouraged by the idea of kindergarten through grade 8,” she said. “I don’t think one floor is enough of a separation between the children.”

Steve Warshaw of Spring Valley Road, a substitute teacher at Jordan-Small, told the board that it should reconsider the proposal.

“No one has any idea what it will cost,” he said. “The notion of taking 25 classrooms (at Jordan-Small) and cramming them into 11 or 12 here makes no sense. It’s a wonderful school. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Several students addressed the board. A group from Jordan-Small presented the board with a petition signed by 160 students and faculty members opposing the plan.

School board member Kate Brix of Windham said she learned a lot at the meeting. “It’s so impressive to see people so passionate about education,” she said.

The board met Nov. 3 to discuss six cost-cutting proposals that included closing the Manchester School in Windham. It decided not to pursue that option.

The board will hold another workshop at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Manchester School. It then will decide how to proceed. The closing of a school in either town would need the approval of voters.

The school board is waiting to learn whether RSU 14 will receive state funding for a new middle school. If the state approves the application, Jordan-Small and Windham Middle School will close.

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]