a photo essay
by Mark Roman
What wasn't getting funded whileU .S. taxeswent
to support militaryactionsaround theglobe?
Schoolsin small communitiesall over M aine. M any
served K -1 children. Often theschool'sreading test
scoreswerehigher than thedistrict or stateaverage.
I n all casesparentsand children wept and fought to
keep their neighborhood school, onlyclosed for lack
of moneyto operateit. $20 0 ,0 00 per year in thecase
of Cornville, M aine. About 5 minutesof thewar in
Studentsveryoften report liking small classesbetter.
T heir familiesfeel thesamewayabout thelittle
communityschoolsfor theprimarygrades. Closings
nearlyalwaysresult in along busridefor small kids.
School closingscreateopposition from citizensof thesurrounding area, and theyrepresent
an opportunityto point out whereall themoneyisgoing.T hemissing dollarsfrom school
budgetsarecrumbscompared with theoutlayfor war and destruction.
When theyfound out weweredocumenting closed schoolsin M aine,
local peopletold usabout other recentlyclosed abandoned places.
H ere& previouspage, aformer shoefactoryin Pittsﬁeld.
T he “Personnel”sign on thedoor makesmefeel sad.
I t’sthelocal school where
a lot of littlekids
that weloveused to go.
T heywereveryproud of their school
and thefact that their mom went there, too.
A friend told usabout thisschool
closing near hishouse.
T hebrightlycolored playground
T heparentsbuilt it and then thekids
werebused away, leaving it behind.
“WELCOME TO OUR SCHOOL. ALL VISITORS
PLEASE CHECK IN AT THE OFFICE.”
The town of Monson is a destination
for through hikers on the Appalachian
Trail. The town turned its closed school
into a community center. The bell will
remain, a silent witness to the
Rural elementary schools often
function as community centers where
book fairs, scout meetings & voting
The towns are just as cash strapped as
the school districts are. So a town
getting back a building to take care of
puts additional strain on the town
budget and local taxes, which school
budgets depend on more and more as
state and federal subsidies shrink.
“I think it's a shame to put
kindergarteners on a bus for 45
minutes each way.”
Isaac Crabtree, who lives
across the street from
the former Monson Elementary.
T heEmpireGrill wasa landmark in Skowhegan. I t wasstyled byﬁlmmakersasa location for theH BO movie
“EmpireFalls”with Paul N ewman, a hard luck storyset in central M ainebased on thePuliitzer Prizewinning novel
byRichard Russo. T hevintageboothsand theneon sign weresold bytheownerswhen theywent out of business.
Closed businesses, arein a dif f rent categorythan schoolsbecauseit’soften assumed that theownersdid something
wrong, or at least unskillful, to makethebusinessfail.
Closed businessesmean thekind of pain that comesfrom onedayhaving a job and thenext daybeing out of work,
worrying about how to paytherent.
When aschool closesit’snot thesameasa businessfailing. I t wasnt meant to bea proﬁt
center, but instead a placewheresocietyinvestsin itself.
When that fails, it createsan uneasyfeeling that something iswrong at adeeper level.
Of coursesomepeoplelosetheir jobswhen schoolsclose, too.
School children dont losetheir “job”but theybecomecommuterswho get bused to a more
distant town wheretheyattend a bigger school.
This closed store was infamous because the bankrupt owners
and their vendor had a dispute that led to a lot of food sitting
inside while the closed store filled with rats.
June 13, 2010 Waterville Morning Sentinel
by Amy Calder, Staff Writer
OLD STORE OVERRUN BY RATS:
Candy-eating rodents entrenched
At former China Village General Store
CHINA -- It's going to take at least a month to rid the former China Village General
Store of dozens of rats living in and around the Main Street building, according to
The rats are feeding off candy bars, boxes of cereal and other food left inside the
store, which closed in February 2009, Code Enforcement Officer Scott Pierz said.
The town took action after neighbors and
people visiting the nearby post office on
Main Street saw rats around the building
and called the town office to complain,
Town Manager Dan L'Heureux said.
"They were rightfully concerned about the
health, welfare and safety of the area,"
Pierz said no one realized there were
rats in the building before the
complaints. When the store closed last
year, paper was taped to the windows and
recently, the glue of the tape dried up
and the paper came off...
Another closed neighborhood storein rural Pittsﬁeld.
I t still had apayphoneoutside, asdid theclosed storein China.
I wondered how far peoplehad to go to buymilk or bread.
This awesome toy store just closed after years of good times in the affluent college town of Brunswick. The
owner told us it was never the same after a nearby navy base closed. They had just repositioned themselves in
the market when the recession hit. In the U.S. we are taught to equate military bases with prosperity.
It's not just Maine.
Google “school closing vote” and this is the first page of hits:
“Board delays school closing vote,” New Pittsburgh Courier, 7/30/10
“Hundreds protest school closings vote in New York City,” 7online.com, 1/27/10
“School closing was neither fair, nor transparent,” Fairfax County, VA, 7/20/10
“Court Rejects Union Bid To Block School Closings,” cbs2chicago.com, 2/23/10
“Memorial School closing vote unanimous,” Reminder Online, Western Mass., 4/5/10
a photo essay
D edicated to thepeopleof:
Waterville, For moreinformation on how M aineis
M aine using local resolutionsto spark
conversationsin communities, visit
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CODEPINK Maine Local Coordinator
Bring Our War $$ Home campaign