March 18, 2018
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Schools renewing consolidation planning

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

HOULTON, Maine — Superintendents from several counties will meet today to discuss what to do now that voters in their districts have turned down recently proposed consolidation plans.

SAD 29 Superintendent Steve Fitzpatrick said Thursday he and other superintendents from nearby districts would meet with the Maine Small Schools Coalition to decide what to do next.

In November, voters turned down a proposed regional school consolidation plan that called for SAD 29 (Houlton area), SAD 70, SAD 14, SAD 25, Community School District 9, and the municipal units of Hersey, Moro Plantation, Orient and Bancroft to form the Tri-County Regional School Unit.

Once that plan was rejected, all of the members of the proposed RSU, except SAD 29, submitted a plan for an alternative organizational structure. The alternative called for those districts and towns to partner on reorganization. The Department of Education approved that plan.

On Jan. 27, voters in SAD 25 (Stacyville area) and Moro Plantation approved the AOS plan, but voters in SAD 14 (Danforth area), SAD 70 (Hodgdon area), CSD 9 (Dyer Brook area), Orient, Bancroft and Hersey rejected the plan.

Fitzpatrick said the superintendents who were looking at having to draft new plans would meet today to discuss their options.

“The plan for the RSU failed and the AOS plan failed,” he said. “Now we all have to decide what to do next. This meeting is going to help us explore our options.”

Districts that rejected the reorganization plan face penalties for their failure to reorganize, including reductions in state subsidies.

Fitzpatrick said he hopes the Legislature will change the law to delay penalties.

“I think more time is needed before penalties are enacted,” he said. “Our Legislature is working on changes that could help us, or if no action is taken, hurt us. This is as very challenging time for us.”


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