Hollis group fine-tuning school study

HOLLIS – A study group appointed by the selectmen to look at school population projections, space and finances will continue fine-tuning the draft proposal that examines the town’s options during a meeting this evening at the Hollis Social Library.

The group, which has been meeting since last March, is studying the cooperative school district and the Hollis school district, made up of two Hollis elementary schools and the cooperative high school and middle schools.

“Study” is the operative word, said Doug Cleveland, chairman of the “Facilities Space Needs Study Committee – Phase 2: Education” which officials routinely refer to as the Hollis Co-op Study Committee.

Neighboring Brookline, which participates in the cooperative school district, has a Brookline Co-op Study Committee, a study group with a similar charge.

Sometime during the next five years, or even later, voters could be asked to decide whether they want to dissolve the 18-year-old cooperative school district, a question that is likely to fan the fires of acrimony and divisiveness.

What happens depends on what the school boards in the two communities decide.

Indeed, Cleveland, chairman of the Hollis study committee, said his group has been reluctant to publicize the ongoing drafting process, citing concerns about residents taking the information out of context.

“We have no conclusions yet, no recommendations yet,” Cleveland said last week, adding that he worries that anyone perusing the document might draw the wrong conclusions.

The draft examines four alternative plans, taking into consideration both space and finances.

One option is to leave the Hollis/Brookline Cooperative School District as it is.

A second plan is to dissolve the cooperative district and have the town take over the existing middle and high schools. In this scenario, Brookline would “presumably” build a new middle/high school or join another cooperative district, according to the most recent version of the draft.

A third approach is to reconfigure the district, building a new middle/high school in Brookline, while a fourth alternative would change the cooperative by reconfiguring it.