Next Tuesday, April 21, voters in Old Town, Bradley and Alton will elect the members of a new school board for Regional School Unit 34, the administrative structure voters approved in a special vote in January. The board will be made up of nine members: six from Old Town, two from Bradley and one from Alton.
RSU 34 was previously designated RSU 16, but the state recently assigned new numbers to some units. The merger brought the area schools into compliance with Gov. John Baldacci’s mandate to reduce the school administration in Maine.
Though write-in candidates can always stage an upset, almost all of those who have taken out papers for seats on the new board are current school board members for their respective towns.
In Old Town, polls at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Gilman Falls Avenue and the Old Town Elks Lodge on Fourth Street will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The candidates include six current Old Town School Board members: Victoria Dupuis, David Wollstadt, Donna Conary, James Dill, Ronald Sagner and Roxane Dubay, as well as Elizabeth McCue-Herlihy, the wife of current board member Gerald Herlihy.
In Bradley, voters may cast their ballots between 3 and 8 p.m. at the municipal building on Route 178. Though two seats on the new board are available, only Leah Tuffley, a current member of the Bradley School Board, is on the ballot.
The sole candidate for Alton’s only seat on the RSU 34 board is Laura Sanborn, who currently serves on that town’s school board. Residents may vote between 4 and 8 p.m. at the town office on Route 16.
Wollstadt, a member of the team named to navigate the transition to the new administrative structure, said the process is going smoothly. While many tasks, such as developing a budget, entering into new banking agreements and setting the school year calendar, must have the endorsement of the new board once it is seated, the transition team has accomplished much of the preliminary work.
The transition team has been led by Superintendents David Walker of Old Town and Alan Smith of the former Union 90, which was made up of Alton, Bradley, Milford and Greenbush. While Alton and Bradley voted in January to join RSU 34, Greenbush and Milford rejected the merger.
On Friday, Smith said he will continue to serve as the school superintendent for Greenbush and Milford for the indefinite future, dividing his time between the two communities. Though the financial future of the two schools is uncertain, Smith said he anticipates having to look closely at all programs and staffing.
The newly elected board of RSU 34 is expected to have its first meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, at the Old Town High School cafetorium.