RANDOLPH — Town officials have scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday at 6 p.m. to allow Randolph residents to have their say about a plan by the Gardiner-area school district to close the town’s elementary school.

“The town as a whole has not had any say in this,” said resident David Cobb. “We’re hoping people will come and talk and take a straw poll (on) if people want to keep the school open.”

Last fall, the departure of the teacher for the combined second- and third-grade class at T.C. Hamlin led to those students being transferred to the Pittston Consolidated School when a replacement teacher could not be found. In some cases, their siblings also were transferred.

That left only 44 students at a school with a capacity of 155, and now 41 students are enrolled.

The School Administrative District 11 school board created an ad hoc committee made up of district board members, district administrative staff and school staff, as well as Randolph residents and town elected officials. The ad hoc committee’s meetings were held in public, but no public comment was taken.

In early January, the committee recommended to the full school board that the school be closed at the end of this school year, after considering a range of factors such as demographics, financial impacts, student and teacher development, and transportation logistics. To accommodate those students, a modular building with four classrooms would be added in Pittston.

The school board was expected to make a decision Jan. 25 after a public forum in Randolph attended by about 65 people, but board members opted to delay the decision because they wanted more information about several outstanding loans for work done to the Randolph school building.

The board has scheduled a special meeting for 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 at the Gardiner Regional Middle School cafeteria for that vote.

If the board chooses closure, Randolph voters will be given a chance to vote on the decision. If they opt to overrule the school board, Randolph property-tax payers will be required to pay the annual cost of keeping the school open, which could be as much as $500,000 a year.

That, Cobb said, is about a third of the town’s budget; if the town votes to keep the school open, property taxes would increase.

Kerri Malinowski plans to attend the Randolph hearing. Although Malinowski is a Pittston resident, she’s concerned about the impact that closure of the Randolph school would have on her town’s school, including overcrowded classrooms and a lack of resources available to keep the current level of services now provided to Pittston students.

“There hasn’t been a commitment of resources to maintain the same level,” Malinowski said.

She has reviewed the information, and said she thinks there are better options, including allowing the Randolph students to be absorbed into all the elementary schools across the district.

“You could avoid the massive influx of students and avoid the need for a modular unit,” she said.

Malinowski said she plans to attend the Pittston selectmen’s meeting the following night to bring up the issue, but she’s not sure a similar public meeting could be held in her town.

“We’re running out of time,” she said.

The future of the elementary school has been debated before.

Since 2010, school district officials have considered the use of space across the district, which includes Gardiner, West Gardiner, Randolph and Pittston. Part of that was examining enrollment at the elementary schools in Randolph and Pittston, but the school board took no action.

Jessica Lowell can be contacted at 621-5632 or at:

[email protected]