Boothbay Harbor selectmen’s Aug. 27 meeting brought updates on the Aug. 17 joint CSD Board of Trustees and School Committee meeting on potential short term costs of over $8 million.
"The most important part of the conversation was on the larger issue of how to thoughtfully plan for our schools moving into our future in a way that is both thinking about the quality of education and also the financial stability and physical structure of the schools."
Wolf said the discussions are beginning to move into the arena of joint meetings between Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor selectmen, the trustees, and the school board.
The schools’ charter specifies they can retain only $12,500 from unspent tax dollars every year, explained Wolf. "It doesn't seem to provide enough resources to do much of anything with a building like a school.”
Wolf collected board members’ information on their schedules to help AOS 98 Superintendent Keith Laser set a meeting date, likely in September.
Kate Rice, pre-kindergarten teacher at Boothbay Region Elementary School, said a recent staff meeting brought hope and relief from Facilities and Transportation Director Dave Benner.
"He feels very passionately that our schools will stay and that they will stay open and that we will continue to have children come to our school and not be taken off the peninsula," said Rice. For young families to remain or come to the region, the schools are necessary, she said.
Darrell Gudroe commented he was taken by Wolf's comments Aug. 17 that the school is the "heart of the community." He also said that judging by some of the talk in town, it is surprising not everyone would agree.
"So I asked my son … about the east side and whether the fishing industry was important to him and all the changes that are going on. And his honest answer back to me was 'Dad, I don't know enough about this, so I can't give you an informed answer.' So I asked him about the school and I asked him about … the school being the heartbeat of the town and he very much agreed with you."
Gudroe said though he has up until recently homeschooled his son, he wants to work toward making sure Boothbay Region High School and BRES stay.
Wolf also updated the board on the recent deeding of the 35 Campbell St. property to Habitat for Humanity. It has hit a snag. After procuring the property, Habitat signed a contract for the adjacent property which, to their knowledge at the time, would increase their lot size to just over 30,000 square feet. This would allow a three-unit or three-home build on the properties.
"However, when they did the formal survey on these properties as part of their due diligence, the footage does not match the tax map at all and it's less than 30,000," Wolf explained.
Wolf said Habitat still plans to renovate the house on the lots and build another home. A meeting with residents in the neighborhood found much concern about the set of stairs on the Campbell Street lot and Habitat has said it will communicate and work with its neighbors to try and preserve that access point, said Wolf.
Financial Officer Julia Latter said the town’s revenue and expenses, year to date, total $1,205,765 and $2,284,964, respectively. The total accounts payable are $121,680.07 and the bank balance is $3,175,787.53.
The audit presentation is Monday, Sept. 10, said Latter. The first tax installment is due Sept. 6.