MARS HILL, Maine — After rejecting an earlier plan for consolidation, voters in central Aroostook school districts on Tuesday approved a second plan for regionalization.
The school boards of SAD 42 in Mars Hill, SAD 20 in Fort Fairfield and the Bridgewater School Department were given state approval to form an Alternative Organizational Structure, or AOS, named the Mid-County School System. Residents in the member towns approved the proposal by a vote of 338-38 during a referendum Tuesday, Roger Shaw, superintendent in SAD 42, said Wednesday.
The AOS will allow all three school districts to combine central office functions, including district administration and business offices, and special education administration and transportation director responsibilities.
Shaw said the integration of these services would be phased in over a three-year period for estimated total savings of $200,000 for all of the districts. Officials in the AOS anticipate seeing between $12,000 and $15,000 in savings for the AOS during the first year and between $75,000 and $100,000 in savings the second year.
Because the AOS plan was approved, SAD 42 will avoid about $62,000 in annual penalties imposed by the state Department of Education for school districts that fail to reorganize by July 1. SAD 20 will avoid an $86,000 annual penalty and the Bridgewater School Department an $11,000 annual penalty because the plan was approved.
Under the new AOS, only one superintendent will oversee the AOS by year three. Schools that are part of the AOS will have to share some services under the plan, but the schools still will retain their independence, and their school boards will remain unchanged.
Shaw said Wednesday that the first AOS board meeting will take place June 7.