Voters in Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor voted down a two-part referendum to spend $28.8 million on repairs for the region’s elementary school and $60.2 million to build a new high school.

As the Cold War-era school buildings get more expensive to repair and maintain safety, the Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor school district — which is part of Alternative Organizational Structure 98 — had put forward the two-part referendum on the November ballot.

Both questions were voted down Tuesday, according to AOS 98 Superintendent Robert Kahler, with the first part narrowly failing 1,162 to 1,266. Question 2 was less close, receiving 718 votes of support and 1,688 votes against, Kahler said.

It wasn’t the only midcoast school district to reject a construction proposal this week. There was a similar vote in Regional School Unit 40, which includes Friendship, Union, Waldoboro, Warren and Washington. Voters there rejected a $81 million package for renovations at all six of its schools, according to the Penobscot Bay Pilot.

On Wednesday night, the AOS 98 board of trustees will tally the official vote count and prepare a series of workshops to decide what to do now that the referendum did not pass, according to Kahler. In the meantime, he said the district will continue to pay for upkeep and repairs of the old buildings.

But Kahler is hopeful that the community will get involved in determining the next steps.

“Even though the result wasn’t necessarily what we’d hoped for, I’m encouraged,” Kahler said. “I’m encouraged by the very high turnout and involvement, and hopefully that will continue because that’s what needs to happen. It needs to be a community solution.”

Jules Walkup is a Report for America corps member. Additional support for this reporting is provided by BDN readers.

Jules Walkup reports on the midcoast and is a Report for America corps member. They graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism and moved to Maine from Tampa, Florida in July 2023.