SAD 70 seeking a partner

Posted Dec. 18, 2009, at 9:40 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:38 a.m.

HODGDON, Maine — Looking to partner with a school close to home, the SAD 70 board in Hodgdon has directed its superintendent to explore joining SAD 29 in Houlton as a regional school unit.

The direction came at a board meeting Monday.

“They just asked me to look into it and see if it is possible, and the financial figures around doing it,” SAD 70 Superintendent Robert McDaniel said Thursday. “Nothing is solid yet, but I am following their direction.”

The board had been in regionalization talks with SAD 25 and Community School District 9. SAD 25 comprises Stacyville, Sherman, Mount Chase and Patten. CSD 9 comprises Crystal, Dyer Brook, Island Falls, Merrill, Oakfield and Smyrna.

Last year, a proposed consolidation plan called for SAD 29, SAD 70, SAD 14 in Danforth, CSD 9, SAD 25 and the municipal units of Hersey, Moro Plantation, Orient and Bancroft to form the Tri-County Regional School Unit. In November, voters in Hodgdon rejected the idea.

The reorganization plan and referendum were in response to the law passed in June 2007 requiring that the state’s 290 school districts be administratively reorganized into approximately 80 regional units governed by regional boards.

After the referendum, the Hodgdon district began talking to officials in SAD 25 and CSD 9 about regionalization. Four meetings have been held so far, according to McDaniel.

Voters in SAD 29 also rejected the idea of forming the Tri-County Regional School Unit. In March, SAD 29 received permission from the state Department of Education to move forward alone under the state regionalization law.

SAD 29 has more than 1,300 students, which is above the minimum of 1,200 needed under the law to form a regional school unit.

Hodgdon is too small to form a school unit on its own. There are just two schools in the district, and only 165 students attend Hodgdon High School.

Houlton is just five miles from Hodgdon. The school districts have collaborated in the past in several areas, including on adult education services and a high school hockey team.

Schools in SAD 25 and CSD 9 are at least 25 miles away.

McDaniel said he has spoken to SAD 29 Superintendent Steve Fitzpatrick about the idea, which will be presented to the SAD 29 board.

“I am going to get in touch with the state to have them crunch some numbers and see what the financial picture might look like for this,” said McDaniel. “We will talk about it when we meet again in January.”

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