Boothbay region taxpayers have a new way to see what $89 million could get them. A new website went up Oct. 5 to inform the public about the school project before the Nov. 7 referendum vote to fund it.
Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 Superintendent Robert Kahler announced the website, www.boothbayregionschools.org, at the CSD school board meeting Oct 10.
The site features virtual tours of the proposed middle-elementary school renovations and new high school with walkthroughs and rendered imagery. It also presents information on the project’s features as they relate to safety, community, academics and sustainability.
In addition, the site links to informational flyers from the CSD, showing plans for the buildings and additional facts. The site also includes contact information for visitors with questions or comments.
However, the site does not include information on the cost of the proposed projects other than their totals. As reported in the Register, the CSD presented information on bond options and their potential impact on taxpayers during public meetings; this is also available through AOS 98. Kahler said the information will be added to the new website in an accessible way, which takes time to craft.
“We're not hiding anything, but we're just trying to present it in a way that's easier for even your casual viewer to say, ‘Oh, OK, that makes sense,’ Kahler said.
In other business, Kahler presented rough estimates showing that closing Boothbay Region High School could cost around $453,000 a year. He said the calculations were based on current figures for the 2023-2024 CSD school budget.
According to the estimates, savings could total around $930,000. However, they would be offset by around $880,000 in loss of tuition and capital projects and $500,000 in transportation. Kahler said around 40 staff members at BRHS would lose their jobs if the school shut down.
“Any cost savings from reduction in staff, which is where the bulk of it would come from, any cost savings is more than offset by tuition, additional transportation, and loss of revenue,” Kahler said.
He said it was counterintuitive but makes sense regarding how the tuition structure operates.
“Because they know sending towns also are going to have large increases in transportation and everything else, it's sort of designed to be a wash,” he said. “Because if everyone would save a ton of money by not having schools, what might that lead to?”