OTIS, Maine — By an 18-vote margin, voters on Tuesday again rejected consolidation with RSU 24.
The vote was 152-134 against joining the RSU.
The RSU now is running the school and providing superintendent services. That agreement, however, ends at the end of this school year, which means that as of July 1, the school will have to find some other apparatus for running the school, according to Superintendent William Webster.
“This has been a very emotional and contentious issue for people on both sides of the issue,” Webster said. “I don’t think anyone knew how it would turn out, but everyone knew the turnout would be high and that it would be close.”
A total of 286 voters cast ballots in the referendum vote, about three times as many as voted in the initial balloting last December. In that ballot, residents rejected consolidation with a vote of 47-37.
“One thing we feel good about is the high percentage of voters in Otis who participated,” Webster said. “This is democracy in action and now we have to move forward with their decision.”
The way forward is not that clear. The Otis School Committee is scheduled to meet Oct. 6 at which point the members will start the process of planning for the future. Webster stressed that although the RSU is running the school and providing superintendent services, those services did not include helping them to ascertain what to do next.
Webster said he would have a number of recommendations ready for the school committee, including hiring an interim superintendent to work on the planning. He will provide a list of potential candidates prepared by the Maine School Management Association.