Pownal program could be cut to save $185K in RSU 5

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FREEPORT — A proposal to bus Pownal Middle School students to either Durham or Freeport next year could save $185,000, according to the Regional School Unit 5 superintendent.

The School Board is working through a $23.6 million operating budget. With stimulus funds from the state, the budget is up 0.72 percent over this year, an increase of $168,000.

Parents, teachers and administrators will have another opportunity to speak to the board at the next meeting on Wednesday, April 14.

Superintendent Shannon Welsh presented the Pownal Middle School Recommendation Study to the board and the public at the last budget meeting on Wednesday, March 24.

She said moving the 36 students to Freeport or Durham schools would create a reasonable class size of 20-22 students. The reduction of the Pownal middle school program would eliminate three teaching positions and free three classrooms for other scholastic activities.

“We are looking to use the classrooms for other programs,” Welsh said. “One of which would be a program for special needs in pre-K through fifth grades.”

The teachers will be able to apply for work within the district, Welsh said, because there have been retirements and shifts in personnel.

She said a bus route from Pownal to Freeport is already in place for high school students, and $5,000 has been budgeted to establish a new morning and afternoon bus route from Pownal to Durham for the middle school students who chose to go there.

The board has set April 14 as another opportunity for the public to discuss the proposal, and a decision is expected by April 28, Welsh said.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net