SAD 75 superintendent: No 'media campaign' to close West Harpswell School

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HARPSWELL — Superintendent Michael Wilhelm this week said the suggestion that School Administrative District 75 is planning a “media campaign” for closure of West Harpswell School is unfounded.

He said the only discussions that have taken place within the SAD’s strategic planning committee have been to decide how to publicize the upcoming public hearing and referendum vote on the proposed school closure.

“We’ve had a conversation about how to get information out,” Wilhelm said.

Options considered included information being published in the Harpswell Anchor, running something on Harpswell community television and mailed fliers, he said.

Wilhelm said there will likely be advertising costs incurred following School Board approval of the information to be sent to voters, which may be in the form of mailed fliers.

Resident Robert McIntyre raised the subject of a public relations campaign recently with the Board of Selectmen, when he referred to a “SAD 75 media campaign to close West Harpswell School.” He said plans for newspaper advertising should be addressed with the School Board before it makes a decision.

“It hasn’t been approved by the School Board yet, but action in advance might be better,” McIntyre said.

Harpswell selectmen did not discuss the issue.

Wilhelm said people need to be informed prior to the referendum vote and said a public hearing with take place Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Harpswell Islands School. The public hearing will allow the public to ask questions about the proposal to close West Harpswell School and explain the referendum question.

If the public hearing is cancelled due to snow, it will take place the following Tuesday, Jan. 25, he said.

The Harpswell-only referendum vote is scheduled for Feb. 1. If residents vote to keep West Harpswell School open for one more year, it will cost the town about $195,000, as approved by the state education commissioner last month. 

Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or sgrinnell@theforecaster.net.

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