DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Residents in SADs 68, 41, 12, Bowerbank, Greenville, Beaver Cove, and Shirley will go the polls in their respective communities Tuesday, Jan. 27, to act on a proposed school reorganization plan.
While SAD 12 (the Jackman region) has been involved in the plan, local officials there have been opposed to consolidation from the start. Municipal and school officials are seeking special legislation to be exempted from the law entirely because of the region’s extreme geographic isolation, according to SAD 12 Superintendent Heather Perry. It is the same rationale as the island schools exemption, she said Wednesday. A bill to allow that is now working its way through the legislative process.
If Jackman rejects the plan and the special legislation is not approved, SAD 12’s first-year penalty will be $31,492, according to Perry.
If residents in the Moosehead Lake region reject the plan, which is what municipal and school officials have urged them to do, the penalties meted out to the union towns would be as follows: Greenville, $105,758; Shirley, $8,546; and Beaver Cove, $11,782, according to Perry, who also serves as the region’s superintendent.
Perry said if the plan is rejected by those communities she serves, all of the communities will work collaboratively with municipal officials to cut “real costs” through shared services in special education, gifted and talented programs and transportation. Union 60 and SAD 12 already share Perry’s service as superintendent.
“As small as our units are, there may be some savings to be had in these areas, but at least we are not incurring additional costs for fewer services as we would under a regional school unit structure,” Perry said.
If the plan is approved, Perry said the towns will move forward to work with the new board and administration to create the best possible educational unit with the understanding there will be no cost savings to local taxpayers and few opportunities for “added value” regarding students programming.
SAD 41 (the Milo region) Superintendent Gilbert Reynolds said Wednesday his district has not been given a definite figure, but recognizes the penalty could be $111,027. His board has not taken a position on the proposed plan. If the Union 60 towns reject the plan, SAD 41 and SAD 68 would still have the required amount of students to meet the state’s requirements, if both supported the plan, he said.
SAD 68 (the Dover-Foxcroft region) directors also have not taken a position because they believe the decision should be made by district voters, Superintendent Ann Bridge said Wednesday. If SAD 68 rejects the plan, the penalty would be $178,500, she said.
Bowerbank, which is not part of SAD 68, would be penalized about $486 if voters in the community rejected the plan, she said.
If the plan is approved, there would be a central office structure and a shared superintendent and the district would avoid the cost of the penalties, Bridge said.
David Connerty-Marin, spokesman for the Maine Department of Education, said Wednesday the penalties identified by the school officials are “rough” figures provided by the department before the latest state budget curtailment. The figures will be adjusted based on valuation and enrollment, he said.