FORT KENT, Maine — A majority of the School Administrative District 27 board voted Monday evening to recommend closing both the Eagle Lake and Wallagrass elementary schools.

Even as residents in Eagle Lake, Wallagrass and St. Francis continue to explore withdrawing from the six-town district, board members elected to move ahead with closing the two remaining outlying schools because of declining enrollment and as a way to address budget concerns.

Both schools will remain open for the coming school year that starts next week, but they will be closed the following year if the proposals are approved by local voters and the state Department of Education.

The St. Francis Elementary School closed in 2015, after a yearlong attempt by residents in that town to keep it open. Also, the town of Winterville withdrew from the district in January 2015, leaving the SAD with six member communities — Fort Kent, Eagle Lake, Wallagrass, New Canada, St. John and St. Francis.

Students from Winterville and Allagash attend SAD 27 schools through a tuition agreement, although those communities are not part of the district.

Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, who also is a SAD 27 board member, said during Monday’s meeting that the motion to close the two schools was “premature.”

Martin and Clarence “Cur” Soucy were the only two board members to vote against the closure recommendations. The other six board members favored closing the schools.

“No one on this board can say for sure that there is no need” for schools in those outlying communities, Martin said. He expressed concern that projected enrollment figures are changing and that there may still be enough students to keep those outlying schools open.

Martin’s motion to table the closure recommendations was not seconded.

“I would have liked to see the board consider the withdrawal process first,” Soucy told his fellow board members.

Soucy and Martin sit on the withdrawal committees for Wallagrass and Eagle Lake, respectively.

“We need to give these communities more time,” Martin said.

Martin questioned how prepared Fort Kent Elementary School is to receive the approximately 60 pre-kindergarten through second-grade students that would be sent from Eagle Lake and Wallagrass, should the closures be approved by the state Department of Education and the respective communities.

Ben Sirois, SAD 27 superintendent, told board members that it was his understanding there is room at Fort Kent Elementary School, which serves kindergarten through sixth graders, for the additional students.

The elementary school already serves all grade three through six students from the member towns in the district. Valley Rivers Middle School and Community High School in Fort Kent serve all district students in grades seven to 12.

“All we can do is recommend,” board Chair Barry Ouellette said Monday concerning the proposal to close the two schools. “It’s up to the community if the school closes.”

Residents in each town must approve the closure plan via a referendum vote. But if voters in a town opt to keep their school open, taxpayers in that community will be responsible for the full cost.

The “budget window” to begin the closure process for the 2017-18 school year has passed, the superintendent said after the meeting, so any school closure at Eagle Lake or Wallagrass would have to happen the following school year.

There were only two members of the public present at Monday’s special board meeting, neither of whom asked questions or commented during the board’s discussion about school closures.

The school closure process can be a lengthy one, and it includes review and approval by the Maine Department of Education. The district must demonstrate a “lack of need,” according to statute; and the school that is closing must be deemed “unnecessary or unprofitable to maintain.”

It is possible that either or both towns could succeed in withdrawing from SAD 27 before the schools in Eagle Lake or Wallagrass are closed. In that case, the residents of each community could decide to fund their own school or to tuition students to Fort Kent Elementary School.