GUILFORD, Maine — A proposed reorganization plan involving SAD 4 (the Guilford region), SAD 46 (the Dexter region), Willimantic and Harmony will be decided by voters in those communities during a special referendum Tuesday, Jan. 27.
Residents in each of the communities will vote in their routine polling places.
If SAD 46 voters reject the plan, the district’s first-year penalty would be $156,000. Directors have taken no position on the plan and want voters to decide whether the plan has merit.
Should the plan be rejected in either SAD 4 or SAD 46, it would no longer be valid, according to SAD 46 Superintendent Kevin Jordan. If SAD 46 voters reject the plan, the district has two options, he said Wednesday. It can look at an alternative plan, or do nothing and wait for legislation to “tweak” the reorganization law. If the law is not changed, the district will face the penalty starting July 1, he said.
SAD 4 directors voted unanimously to oppose the proposed plan. SAD 4 Superintendent Paul Stearns said Wednesday that based on this year’s valuation and data, the district would be penalized about $133,000 if the plan is rejected.
“Presently the state of Maine is in dire straits financially and we have a present-day curtailment which will carry through for the next two years,” Stearns noted. “The penalty is a known entity, a known quantity, and the costs of reorganizing are an unknown quantity and we’ve got a lot of promises that the state is going to be able to help us along, but I don’t see it.”
Harmony would be penalized about $21,000 if residents reject the plan, while Willimantic would lose about $10,186. Town officials in the latter community are encouraging residents to reject the plan. Harmony officials have taken no official stance.
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.