Dedham school approves AOS deal

Posted Dec. 14, 2010, at 10:49 p.m.

ORRINGTON, Maine — School officials in town and nearby Dedham have been working for years to come up with a way to save money, adhere to the 2007 school consolidation law and keep local control, and finally a draft plan is ready.

It will be presented to the public in January, once approved by both local school boards and the state.

The plan is for Dedham and Orrington to create an alternative organizational structure, which is similar to the old school union and accomplishes all three goals, Orrington Superintendent Allen Snell said Tuesday.

The Dedham-Orrington regional planning committee and the Dedham School Committee met Tuesday night and “both the RPC and the Dedham School Committee voted to endorse the AOS plan and now it needs to be voted on by the Orrington School Committee,” he said after the meeting.

Orrington will hold a special meeting at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday to vote on whether to endorse the AOS, Snell said.

“Should they vote to support it, which I believe they will, it will be submitted to the state on Thursday,” he said.

Under the proposed AOS, the Dedham School Department will have its own budget and the Orrington School Department will have its own budget, and there will be a combined superintendent and special education office that will fall under the AOS, Snell explained.

Once the school boards and Department of Education approve the draft AOS plan, it must be presented to residents in both towns for approval by referendum vote before it can be presented to the state again for final approval.

“A public meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 5 in Orrington and Jan. 12 in Dedham to present the plan to the public,” Snell said.

The referendum is scheduled tentatively for Jan. 31.

In the Orrington-Dedham partnership, the AOS board would have six members, four from Orrington and two from Dedham, and would be charged with hiring a superintendent and creating a central office budget, Snell said.

Dedham and Orrington officials already have agreed that the AOS office will be located in Orrington, since Center Drive School has more space, he said.

Most of the school consolidation plan is complete, but one big piece that remains to be worked out is a nonexclusive contract with a community that provides secondary education.

With a majority of the high school-age students in both communities attending Brewer High School, the decision was made to contract with Brewer.

“That’s still being negotiated,” Snell said of the contract, describing it as “a little bump.”

“We will have to have a separate vote on that in February,” he said. “School choice is guaranteed but we are required, under the new law, to ensure our secondary students have a school that he or she can attend.”

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