Lincoln most likely will form a Regional School Unit with at least one other northern Penobscot County town, while only Millinocket voted for forming an Alternative Organizational Structure with its Katahdin region neighbors, officials said Tuesday.
Lincoln approved the proposed RSU 17 plan 220-109 on Tuesday, according to vote totals gathered at Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln. The towns of Lowell and Howland voted down the plan by votes of 59-5 and 146-16, respectively, according to unverified vote totals collected late Tuesday.
Other totals from the remaining communities within the proposed RSU — including the towns of SADs 30, 31 and 67, as well as Carroll, Drew, Glenwood, Macwahoc, Reed and Seboeis plantations, and the towns of Lakeville, Medford and Woodville — were not available late Tuesday.
If another community supports forming the RSU with Lincoln, the two municipalities would have enough students to proceed, said RSU organizational committee member John Neel.
Millinocket voted 381-51 in favor of forming the Sunrise Peak School District with East Millinocket and Medway, but those towns didn’t. East Millinocket rejected the plan 157-63 and Medway voted it down 193-18, said Wallace Paul, a Sunrise organizational committee member and Millinocket’s Town Council chairman.
“I don’t think the process is over,” Paul said Tuesday. “We haven’t heard much from East. The East AOS committee is very supportive. Medway made a commitment to keep going with it.”
The poor voter turnout might be indicative of the poor regard residents have for the state Legislature’s forcing towns to regionalize schools ostensibly to save money, Paul said.
“I think we are being bullied. People are blind if they don’t recognize that,” Paul said. “I think that a lot of people resent it. We had at least two councilors say exactly that, that they were upset by the format the state chose to take with this.”
As it stands, the AOS and RSU communities will be forced to pay fines ranging from about $20,000 to $180,000, although state legislative efforts to repeal that law are progressing.
The organizational committees will likely resume their efforts within a few weeks in accordance with state law requiring school consolidation by July 1.