The Harpswell Coastal Academy Board of Directors voted unanimously Wednesday to continue pursuing a consolidation of the school’s two campuses in order to survive.

The decision, which came a day after the Maine Charter School Commission deferred judgment on the school’s proposal until its May meeting, kept alive the possibility that the Harpswell School could remain open next year despite trouble with finances and enrollment.

“Let the record show that we are not giving up,” said Board Chair Cynthia Shelmerdine. “We’re not looking at a closed door, and we’re going ahead to walk through it.”

In order to remain financially viable, Harpswell Coastal Academy must move its approximately 100 high school students from Brunswick to Harpswell, where its 5th through 8th grade programs are based, according to school officials. Had the Maine Charter School Commission rejected the consolidation plan yesterday, the academy board would have been forced to close the school at the end of the spring, according to Head of School Scott Barksdale.

The commission — wary of the school’s enrollment trends and financial difficulties but touched by an outpouring of community support that included letters, a fundraising campaign and a student-produced video — voted 4-2 on Tuesday to defer judgment on the consolidation plan.

The result was deflating for Barksdale, who noted that without a guarantee that the academy will open next year, it will be difficult for the school to retain teachers, increase enrollment or raise the up to $327,000 it needs to fund the move.

Despite these challenges, Barksdale’s staff recommended the board take steps requested by the commission, which included drafting more detailed consolidation, project management and community engagement plans. The board spent most of Wednesday’s meeting developing a strategy for drafting the revised plans, driving enrollment and raising funds.

The school’s plan would require the purchase and installation of three yurts, the construction of additional parking, and possibly an upgrade to the Harpswell campus’ septic system. As of Tuesday morning, community members had pledged $144,000 to the project, according to Barksdale.

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