BATH — Regional School Unit 1 signed a five-year lease last week to move its central office to the Wing Farm Business Park.
The move is designed to cut costs for the school district, which serves Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg, West Bath and Woolwich.
RSU 1 operated at the John E. L. Huse Memorial School on Andrews Road before temporarily moving its offices to the nearby Small School in April 2010. The move has allowed the students and staff of Woolwich Central School to attend classes at the 70-year-old Huse School while their own school is being largely rebuilt.
But once Woolwich starts moving back into its finished building this summer, RSU 1 plans to turn the Huse School back over to the city, which owns the building.
“It was … us trying to be proactive to say, financially, does this make a lot of sense (to return to Huse), or are there other options that would be more economical based on the staff that we have,” RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel said on Monday, noting that the school district has been responsible for the maintenance and cost of operating the large and aging building.
RSU 1 has signed a lease with Midcoast Maine Community Action, the landlord at 34 Wing Farm Parkway, and the central office will move there in late April or early May, Manuel said.
Ruth Moore, RSU 1 business manager, said the central office only used Huse School’s second floor.
“Financially, it doesn’t seem logical to go there if we could go somewhere else for a lesser amount,” she said. “And we believe that we’ve found that place.”
RSU 1 could save between $60,000 and $80,000 a year in fuel costs at Wing Farm, Moore said.
City Manager Bill Giroux said the City Council must start thinking about what it wants to do with the Huse School. Options could include selling it or renting the space to tenants.
“They probably should make that decision sometime this year,” Giroux said, suggesting that discussion could begin after the fiscal 2013 budget process is complete in June.
Giroux said the Huse School will need a new roof within a few years, “but other than that the building is in pretty good shape.”
Regional School Unit 1 operated at the John E. L. Huse Memorial School in Bath until 2010, when it moved out to provide space for Woolwich Central School students while their largely new school is being built.