Town votes to close TC HAMLIN, May 15 -- 268 TO 15

VOTE RESULTS:   268 YES to close and 15 NO to keep open and raise taxes

The chance for Randolph citizens (only) to vote to keep TC Hamlin open, or to close it, is scheduled for Tuesday, May 15th from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Town Office.  See sample ballot below.   A prevailing vote of "yes" will close the school whereas a prevailing vote of "no" will keep it open. If it remains open, then taxes will increase significantly because the projected "savings" of about $450,000 will be assessed to Randolph.  This represents about a 50% increase to the amount that Randolph pays now to MSAD #11 and a 22% increase in the entire Town budget.

Earlier post:

The School Board voted to close TC Hamlin School at a Special Meeting on Thursday March 15. After some spreadsheet explanations of cost comparisons and some Board discussion, they voted 9 to 1 with 2 absences to close the school and end a long piece of Randolph history.  Those students will now be transferred to the Pittston Elementary school.  A 4 room modular unit will be added to the back side of Pittston to add more classroom space for the entire student body. The cost for this modular unit will be about $88,000 in startup costs plus a $58,800 annual lease cost for as long as the unit is needed.  Estimated savings to the entire School budget is roughly $375,000 per year (about 1.5% of the entire MSAD #11 budget ).
The Board of Selectmen had written a letter to the School Board and that is attached below.

Randolph citizens will now have to go to a referendum vote to choose to keep the school open or agree with the School Board to close it.  This vote will be for Randolph citizens only and will likely occur in mid May.  If citizens decide to keep it open, then all taxpayers will incur the projected savings of over $452,000 per year to the normal District appropriation.  This extra cost is about 1/2 of the current District cost to Randolph and all tax bills would increase significantly. 

An open forum was held by the Selectboard on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 6:00 p.m. at the school.  About 50 attendees were able to present their opinions, ask questions, and generally discuss the future of our TC Hamlin School for 2 hours.  Pros and cons were presented, including some facts from a few school administrators, and 1 of Randolph's School Board members.  Notes were taken by the Selectboard who plan to summarize the proceedings and then send to the School Board and Superintendent.  Apparently the School Board will be meeting and possibly voting on Feb 26.  

Previously, a public forum was held on January 25, 2018 at TC Hamlin to review the latest options.  About 80 people filled the seats including about 25 MSAD staffers.  The Superintendent did a 75 minute presentation and then opened it up for questions and comments from the Board and then the public.  About a dozen individuals asked questions or made comments. The session was videotaped and is on the District website.  After further review over the next several weeks, the Board will vote on something. If closure is the decision, then the State Dep't of Education (DOE) will review the projected cost savings, then the School Board calls a referendum vote for closure where only Randolph voters may vote to keep it open or close it.  If the vote is to keep it open, then Randolph citizens must bear the normal annual District town share + the DOE-determined cost savings which could easily be $350,000+.

School Board officials and the Superintendent met with the Selectboard in late September to inform them of this issue.  Minutes of the September 26 meeting are here.

A separate Committee was formed and they had meetings recently at TC Hamlin.  Randolph reps included Selectman Matt Drost at and Dotty Hinckley at and Selectman Bob Henderson at, and Nancy Fortier Brown at
Each meeting was videotaped and can be seen here.

Here is a quick summary:

Nov. 6 2017: the 2 hour meeting included a history of enrollment in the District, current trends, lots of "what if" scenarios, and an explanation of closing options.  Many possibilities are "on the table" and will be discussed in future meetings.
Nov. 27, 2017:  this meeting included discussion on population trends, town demographics of births/deaths/real estate sales, etc, enrollments in Randolph, a review of 2 scenarios with one being transferring all Hamlin students to Pittston and the other being using both schools (Pittston housing K-2 students and Hamlin housing grades 3-5 students from both towns), a review of placing a new 4 room modular unit at Pittston, the challenges of bus coordination, and the need to know the operating costs of TC Hamlin by itself.
January 8, 2018: with no Randolph citizens or parents in attendance except for Mr.Coughlan and Committee members, after 90 minutes of discussion, a vote was taken on the recommendation by Mr. Kempton to close the school based on his "3 deciding factors" of overall efficiency of the District, better collaboration among teachers in the District, and better social experiences for the students.  All members voted affirmatively except for 2 Hamlin employees.  That important decision will be forwarded to the full School Board this week for further action.  The 2 options for closure will result in either 1) closing the school and retaining ownership, or 2) closing the school and divesting of all interests in it.  That decision has yet to be determined due to consequences of each option. If closure is ultimately voted on, then Randolph students will go to Pittston school and be integrated with all the other kids and teachers.  A modular addition will be set up with 4 classrooms, 2 baths, and an office to provide extra "breathing room" for certain instructional classes. 
Mrs Disch presented cost estimates for the 2 options.  The cost of setting up a modular unit is estimated to be over $87,000 in the 1st year and then about $59,000/year (lease payment only) + expenses.  The first option of "closure and retain ownership" is estimated to save about $374K. That estimate is largely made up of savings from teachers, facility maintenance, and food services.  The second option of "closure and transfer ownership" is estimated to save about $398K. That estimate is largely made up the same savings plus additional facilities maintenance.  Therefore, the savings will be over a quarter million dollars per year.  In addition, the non-monetary benefits of exposing kids and teachers to the larger population of peers and associates will be beneficial.
Also, the chances of actually reducing tax bills for District citizens is unlikely.  In other words, the closure of Randolph's school will not automatically reduce Randolph tax bills.  Nor does it mean that Pittston taxes will automatically go up. As a 4 town District, the expenses are spread across each town by State valuations and each town will be affected.
So.....if the decision is to close TC Hamlin, then the citizens of Randolph will have to vote on that too. If they decide to keep it open (against the School Board vote), then Randolph's obligation will be the normal portion of the entire School Budget + the estimated savings of $374K........ that equates to higher taxes.
As it stands in this fiscal year, Randolph pays about $995K to the District which had a total budget of $24M this year.