Decision means moving all students from Hawthorne
BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick School Board on Wednesday voted 8-0 to close Union Street School, a decision that will also lead to the closing of 93-year-old Hawthorne Elementary School a year ahead of schedule.
The decision stems from a proposal by Superintendent Paul Perzanoski, who said closing Union Street and moving students from Hawthorne will save the district $531,000 in the upcoming budget.
It also allows the district to absorb the loss of enrollment anticipated from the 2011 closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station. The district is expected to lose close to 300 students between this year and next as military families begin their exodus from the region.
The last P-3 Orion squadron is scheduled to leave by the end of the year. However, school officials anticipate many families will remove their children from Brunswick schools before the next school year.
Overall, the department is projecting a loss of 621 base-related students. The decline in enrollment will eventually lead to the loss of $1 million in federal subsidies.
Hawthorne was scheduled to be shuttered in 2010 because of the construction of a new elementary school. Now, the district will retain ownership of the building and move its central offices there. Hawthorne will also become the new home of the district’s adult education program, and potentially all-day kindergarten.
Union Street, meanwhile, will be turned over to the town and become the future home of People Plus, a retirement services organization being displaced by the Maine Street Station project.
Perzanoski said about 98 percent of remaining Hawthorne students will be moved to Coffin School, which officials say will lose the most military-related students.
Perzanoski said some Hawthorne students may go elsewhere because of their individual programming needs.
Hawthorne is expected to undergo its conversion June 30th. However, the board decision must also survive a 30-day grace period, during which citizens may petition to reverse the plan.
Perzanoski said Wednesday that he knows of no opposition effort.
Board co-Chairman Byron Watson said the decision was difficult, but inevitable.
“This is a vote we all knew was coming,” Watson said. “I’ve personally dreaded this for over a year. Hawthorne has a phenomenal staff. … But on the other hand, the board must make responsible decisions to insure students are attending schools with a viable population and schools with the best academic programs.”
Watson added that such decisions needed to meet upcoming budget challenges.
He also said that the board will make sure most Hawthorne students end up at Coffin School.