June 21, 2018
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Medway official opposes regionalization plan

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

MEDWAY, Maine — Greg Stanley has worked on the plan to regionalize Katahdin region schools, but he cannot support it despite a recent state decision that eliminates a major snag, he said Tuesday.

The Medway School Committee chairman called the plan flawed and incomplete. He said his opinion doesn’t necessarily represent the school committee, or the opinions of other Medway representatives on the Sunrise Peak School District organizational committee. They are David Dickey, chairman of the town Board of Selectmen, and George Stanley, no relation.

Dickey did not return a telephone call Tuesday and George Stanley has an unlisted telephone number.

“This has nothing to do with not wanting to work with the other towns because we already are,” Stanley said Tuesday. “With this plan, once you’re in it [a regionalized alternative organizational structure, or AOS], you can’t get out of it. Why would we want to get into this if it’s not the right plan?”

If East Millinocket, Medway and Millinocket voters approve a Jan. 27 referendum, the schools will form the Alternative Organizational Structure by July 1. If voters do not OK the plan, state law compels the regionalization effort to continue until something is passed, or else each town is penalized financially.

Under the proposed AOS, the towns will have committees running their schools, with each committee naming three members to an AOS board and one superintendent supervising the schools. That’s essentially just as the schools operate now through Union 113, the Millinocket School Committee and Superintendent Sara Alberts.

No major changes to the schools are expected.

The major sticking point, Stanley and other organizational committee members have said, was the state Department of Education’s insistence that the towns decide how state education funding should be divided among them — a decision that the state reversed earlier this month.

But Stanley said he dislikes the state’s new funding formula and noted that the formula is not within the plan that voters will face on Jan. 27.

“It doesn’t fix everything,” he said. “There are some things there that by law, if you read the law, the law does not make happen. The law does not compel them [state officials] to divide the money.”

The state’s effort to compel schools statewide to regionalize has many critics. Stanley is the first prominent reorganization committee member in northern Penobscot County to say that he would not support a plan after it had been produced by its organization committee and approved by the state DOE.

Wallace Paul, Millinocket’s Town Council chairman and a member of the organizational committee, was surprised and a bit miffed that Stanley was speaking out against the plan without discussing his issues with the organizational committee.

No Medway representatives attended the committee’s most recent meeting, he said.

“Most of the plan, as far as the governance of the schools goes, was done at Greg’s personal insistence, and we worked it out and felt that it was very comfortable for all of us,” Paul said Tuesday. “I don’t understand. He knows full well that this [funding dispersal agreement] will be put into the plan and we all enthusiastically wanted it that way.”

“We have been at this for two years,” Paul added. “I just don’t see what his problem [is], and the frustration is that I don’t know where it goes from here.”

The organizational committee will hold public hearings on the proposal at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 7, at Medway Middle School; 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 8, at Stearns High School of Millinocket; and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13, at the East Millinocket Town Office.

Town selectmen and school committee members will meet Jan. 20 at Medway Middle School to discuss the plan, Stanley said.

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