June 20, 2018
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Two midcoast districts choose consolidation

By George Chappell

ROCKLAND, Maine — Voters in the six towns representing SADs 5 and 50 approved the proposed regional school consolidation plan in Tuesday’s referendum.

Residents of SAD 50 communities Cushing, St. George and Thomaston, and SAD 5 communities Owls Head, Rockland and South Thomaston voted overall 5,947 to 3,615 to approve the plan for a new regional school unit.

But St. George residents opposed the consolidation plan with 1,020 against and 639 votes for it.

The other towns supported it.

In SAD 5, Rockland voters tallied 2,428 yes votes to 1,118 no votes, Owls Head voted 694-309 for the plan, and South Thomaston cast 671 ballots for and 281 against the proposal.

SAD 50 residents in Thomaston voted 1,067-441 for the plan, and Cushing voted 448-346 in favor of reorganization.

The state Department of Education approved a reorganization plan developed this year by a specially created reorganization planning committee for the two school districts, pending approval by the voters in the towns. Under consolidation, the two districts will be reorganized into one regional school unit with approximately 2,300 students.

St. George residents at a meeting last month expressed concerns about rising costs, loss of local control of the town’s kindergarten-through-eighth-grade-school, and declining student enrollment and its effect on the quality of education as a result of consolidation.

The two district boards plan to meet next week to name a clerk to shepherd a new regional school unit in January, said Ann Matlack, recording secretary for the regional planning committee.

Meanwhile, the Sheepscot Valley communities of Alna, Wiscasset, Westport Island, Palermo, Somerville, Whitefield, Windsor and Chelsea approved their school administration consolidation plan with a combined vote of 4,771 to 3,093.

In a town by town tally, Alna voted 261-161; Wiscasset, 1,142-993; Westport Island, 365-131; and Palermo, 459-356.

The other four towns were Somerville, 176-84; Whitefield, 700-400; Windsor, 787-465; and Chelsea, 876-503.



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