June 23, 2018
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Voters reject County-area schools proposal

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

MARS HILL, Maine — Voters in eight communities in central Aroostook County soundly rejected a proposal Tuesday evening that would have regionalized all of their school districts and departments.

If the plan had passed, SAD 42 in Mars Hill would have joined with SAD 45 in Washburn, the Bridgewater School Department and the Easton School Department to form one regional school unit.

SAD 42 serves students from Mars Hill and Blaine, as well as tuition students from Bridgewater and E Plantation. SAD 45 serves students in Washburn, Perham and Wade.

The regionalization proposal was turned down in all of the towns, with 89 percent of the voters casting ballots opposing the plan and 11 percent in favor of the plan.

SAD 42 Superintendent Roger Shaw was blunt about the outcome of the vote.

“I am not surprised,” he said Thursday. “Rural Maine has been saying for two years that this law is not going to work for rural communities. It does not have to work for urban Maine, because they literally have to do nothing with this law. Who is impacted by it? Small, rural communities.

“I would have been surprised if it had not been as lopsided as it was,” he said.

He noted that several other Aroostook County towns would vote on their plans next week.

“I would be shocked if you don’t see the same thing happening in [other] rural communities when they vote,” Shaw said.

Shaw said those involved in organizing the proposed RSU did not anticipate seeing any long-term savings from regionalization.

He said SAD 42 would await direction from Education Commissioner Susan Gendron regarding the next step.

“She will probably direct us to pursue other options under the law, which we will do,” he said. “We will have to wait. I am very certain of what we are not going to do — the voters have spoken very clearly about that.”

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