May 22, 2018
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Katahdin reorganization plan won’t close schools

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — No one is completely certain what the plan to unite town, Medway and Millinocket schools as an alternative organizational structure will be, but with the plan about 95 percent finished, Selectman Mark Marston feels pretty comfortable saying what it won’t be.

It won’t, Marston says, be a plan where any school buildings will be closed next year or where one town can order another town’s schools closed.

Nor, with the AOS board being represented by two members apiece from the three towns, will one town have an inherent advantage over the others. And with each town maintaining school boards that will send equal numbers of representatives to the AOS board, the towns will maintain a great deal of control over their schools.

Marston discussed the looming state-imposed Katahdin region school reorganization with other school reorganization committee members during a Joint Municipal Elected Officials Board meeting Wednesday. He said he wanted to knock back some rumors surrounding the plan.

Yet some questions about school reorganization remain, said Wallace Paul, Millinocket’s Town Council chairman and a member of the AOS formation committee. The biggest is how much state funding will go to the new AOS and how funding will be divided among the three towns.

“There is no indication that this has been resolved to anybody’s clarity, never mind satisfaction,” Paul said. “That is a major frustration. We will have to go year by year and trust each other and do a just allocation because there is no formula or layout that anyone, anywhere has found at this point.”

The three towns will face financial penalties if they don’t finish the reorganization scheme on time. The plan must be received by the state Department of Education for initial review by Nov. 14, committee members have said.

All the communities involved ultimately must vote on the plan. The deadline for the vote is Jan. 30, 2009. Seventeen reorganization plans around the state are scheduled to be voted on Tuesday.

When the reorganization committee has a proposal ready for municipal and public review, Paul said, it probably will do a taped presentation for dissemination over local-access television.

“I think there is enough confusion and distrust that unless we put out what the facts are and what the real work is to be done, it may not get real support that it deserves,” Paul said. “I think we will get the support from the three communities that the plan deserves.”

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