May 25, 2018
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SAD 68 seeks exemption from consolidation laws

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — They haven’t lined up any sponsors yet, but SAD 68 officials plan to submit legislation to exempt the district from the state laws requiring school administrative consolidation.

The move is seen as the district’s last resort after many months of fruitless efforts to comply with the law. Neighboring districts have twice rejected consolidation with SAD 68 and the district has twice been denied an exemption status by the Department of Education.

“I just hope the commissioner and others realize that we really have done due diligence and have pursued all avenues,” Superintendent Al Smith said Monday. “We really just don’t have any areas left at this point to pursue.”

Even after being told that SAD 68 — which covers Dover-Foxcroft, Sebec, Charleston and Monson — had been rejected by surrounding districts twice for administrative consolidation, state education officials told it to try again.

Frustration then set in, according to Smith. He said last month that the district has done everything the state has asked and more. “What’s concerning to me is where does common sense start to play a role here,” he said.

Until the matter is resolved, the district continues to face a $200,000 penalty for not regionalizing.

In 2009, SAD 68 residents voted in favor of forming an alternative organizational structure with SAD 41 (Milo), SAD 12 (Jackman), the Bowerbank School Department, and Greenville-area schools, but those partners rejected the move.

Discussions were held earlier this year with SAD 4 (Guilford) and SAD 41 (Milo), but those two districts later elected to seek partnerships with other districts. SAD 41 is now in discussions with SAD 31 (Howland), and SAD 4 is in discussions with SAD 46 (Dexter).

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