BAR HARBOR — There still seems to be some confusion in area towns about what, exactly, the proposed straw poll on planning for a consolidated middle school is asking voters to weigh in on.
The question that Mount Desert Island Regional School System officials have asked town boards to include on their town meeting warrants is this: “Are you in favor of the school board continuing planning efforts for a combined, district-wide middle school?”
A note accompanying that question would explain that a “yes” vote would tell the town’s school board to continue their planning efforts “including, but not limited to, developing conceptual drawings, cost estimates, potential locations and a future referendum question.” A “no” vote would tell the local school board to stop all such planning efforts.
“We are not asking anybody [for permission] to build a middle school or fund a middle school,” Superintendent Marc Gousse reminded the school system board June 8. “We are simply (posing) the question for purposes of continued discussion and planning.”
Board member Heidi Lawson said that now is not the time to be spending any money on planning for a middle school.
“We at our local levels are having to cut things out of our budgets for this school year and possibly next year because we don’t know what’s going to happen with the economy, so it would be very irresponsible to be expending money at the (school system) level to look into this further right now,” she said. “There are things in our local [school] buildings that should probably be done, but we are putting them off because of what’s been going on with the economy.”
Swan’s Island and the Cranberry Isles held their town meetings in March, and residents of those towns voted “yes” on the question of whether their school boards should continue with middle school planning efforts.
The town meetings in all the other towns in the school district have been postponed because of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.