By a unanimous vote, Lubec's MSAD 19 school board has rejected the request by the Lubec Community Outreach Center (LCOC) to utilize the closed high school wing for food pantry operations. The emotionally charged January 16 meeting was widely attended and attracted four of the five members of the Lubec Select Board.
The evening's agenda included "Update on Lease/Sale of High School Wing," discussion of which came immediately before the LCOC proposal was aired. AOS 77 Superintendent James Underwood started the discussion by observing that there had been only one bid received following the recent advertisement for "sale or lease" of the facility, which has been unused for three years, and that bid had come from the LCOC. "There has been a great deal of effort to get the building used," said Underwood, "but we haven't gotten anywhere with it." MSAD 19 Director Danielle Caricofe, speaking of the series of meetings that had been held in late 2011, asked, "What was the consensus?" "My interpretation," replied Principal Tina Wormell, "was that they wanted community usage." MSAD Director Sonja Bailey said, "The most important thing is that taxpayers shouldn't be heating the place anymore."
Resident Bruce Wilson addressed the board, observing, "Things have changed in the last few months." He raised concerns about school security, saying that "public access should be limited." He urged that the unused facility be demolished and asked that the board vote on that matter "tonight."
Caricofe asked about putting the question to the public. "We can't ask them," said MSAD Director Charlotta Farmer. "We can ask them," replied Caricofe, adding, "Who are we to decide? I want to hear from the community."
Select board chair Maureen Glidden pointed out that planned and contemplated federal and state funding cuts could mean "half a million will be lost," urging the MSAD 19 board not to incur further costs. "You guys are responsible for the biggest part of our budget," she said.
Select board member Sara McConnell replied, "Our economy will not be getting any better if we don't provide educational services. There may be a majority, not represented by those in this room, who think more of the needs of the students."
"If they vote for something, and we don't want it, do we have to do it?" asked school board Chair Tabitha Munson, referring to Caricofe's suggestion of a public meeting but addressing Underwood. "You shouldn't ask them if you don't want to do what they say," replied Underwood.
Wilson then repeated his request that the board vote on demolishing the unused facility immediately. "We can't do that," replied Munson. "We don't even know what it would cost."
The matter was tabled until costs for demolition could become part of the discussion; Underwood stated that he would take care of getting estimates.
The LCOC proposal was next. The nonprofit group has asked that a portion of the unused wing be used for food pantry operations to continue the services provided by the Whiting Community Food Pantry, which is closing. The LCOC proposal includes leasing the facility for $1 per year plus paying $100 per month for utilities.
Select board member James Jones raised the question of access by "pedophiles." LCOC Executive Director Cathy Arrington replied that the group had already committed to making off‑site deliveries to any affected individuals, eliminating the need for them to visit the school property.
Munson moved that the board "reject the LCOC proposal," it was seconded by Farmer and passed unanimously with no further discussion.
In other business before the board, students from the eighth‑grade class presented plans for a proposed springtime trip to Boston to visit the science museum. Becca Greene outlined the itinerary, which involves 19 students and five chaperons taking an Amtrak train into Boston, leaving Lubec on May 17. Jessyka Moores detailed the group's fundraising plans, which include a broad mix of events spaced throughout the school year. The board approved their plans and praised the students for developing a detailed proposal.