By Scott Shurtleff

GROTON -- The long-awaited relocation of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Department is underway.

School Superintendent Laura Chesson said the move from the old Prescott School building at 145 Main St., to the new middle school at 344 Main St., will save about $80,000 per year in rent and utilities.

Abrams, an analytics company hired by the district, suggested the plan as a cost-cutting method. "We already own the middle school property," said Chesson. "So we won't have to pay rent or utilities."

The department's 20 employees will now operate out of four vacant classrooms and some portable classrooms in back of the middle school. The move, which occurred over two days -- Wednesday and Thursday -- had been planned since last fall.

The "portables," according to Chesson, are not certified for permanent use or for classroom use.

"The four empty classrooms are a result of a dip in enrollment," said Chesson. "Lower birth rates in central and western Massachusetts have led to fewer students, especially in the lower grades."

She predicts that the trend will reverse over the coming years and that enrollment will once again be robust enough to fill the classrooms that are now used for administrators.