STANDISH — SAD 6 is considering closing Steep Falls Elementary School as a cost-cutting measure, a discussion that is ongoing and is “not finalized.”

Superintendent Paul Penna said the district needs to cut $1.5 million from its budget and “consolidation saves districts money.”

The idea of closing Steep Falls was first suggested at the Jan. 17 Budget Advisory Committee meeting. Attendees discussed dividing the 103 Steep Falls students between Edna Libby Elementary School in Standish and H.B. Emery Jr. Memorial School in Limington. The committee anticipated savings of $700,000 and added that the Steep Falls building could be offered back to the town of Standish for its reuse.

“It’s not finalized. It is in conversation and discussion with the community. It’s not slated to be closed right now,” Penna said.

Penna said SAD 6 received an additional $1.1 million in funding that it was not expecting from the state this year, but that “increase is not sustainable by the state.” As a result, the district is exploring ways to save money and ensure that residents’ taxes do not increase too greatly.

Residents are concerned about the possible closure and some feel that the district has not been transparent with its process.

Standish resident Sue Watson urged the committee to be more open and provide information to residents.

“It’s not transparent to the community. What are the specifics? What’s the foresight? What’s your master plan?” she asked.

She continued, “We just need to stop the rumors. I’ve heard all kinds of things around town.”

If the district decides to close the school, Watson is concerned about transportation options, transition strategies and the impacts that an increased enrollment would have on the other schools, especially on class sizes.

She wishes the district would consider other options as well; she thinks that closing Steep Falls “is an easy fix to get some of that money.”

Penna said that at Budget Advisory Committee meetings, “People were concerned, and they had lots of questions. But they responded in a very positive manner in understanding that in order to maintain this school there’s a financial impact on our community.”

He does not have a timeline for how long the consideration process will take or what the outcome will be but said “this money allows us to plan better moving forward.”

A committee meeting scheduled for Feb. 28 was cancelled.

Chairperson of the Budget Advisory Committee Todd Delaney and SAD 6 Business Manager Bill Brockman could not be reached for comment.

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at [email protected]

Steep Falls Elementary School has 103 students.

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