SAD 68 clears a hurdle for alternative plan

Posted Jan. 06, 2011, at 12:16 a.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — SAD 68 has received state approval to submit an alternative plan for administrative consolidation after the district’s exhaustive attempts failed to find a willing partner in the Penquis region.

The alternative plan, which would convert the district representing the towns of Dover-Foxcroft, Sebec, Charleston and Monson into RSU 68, is in the hands of the Department of Education, SAD 68 Superintendent Al Smith said Wednesday.

“We’re certainly moving in the right direction, and I’m positively optimistic that we’re going to be in a place that will relieve us of the penalties as well as being able to move forward educationally,” Smith said.

The district was twice rejected by surrounding districts in its effort to consolidate administrative offices to comply with state law and was twice rejected by the Department of Education for a doughnut hole — exemption status to avoid a $200,000-a-year penalty.

A recent meeting with acting education Commissioner Angela Faherty and consultant Ray Poulin was quite productive, Smith said. Also attending the meeting were SAD 68 board Chairman Rick Johnston, Reps. Peter Johnson, R-Greenville; Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, Doug Wintle, R-Dexter, Sen. Douglas Thomas, R-Ripley, and the district’s attorney.

“They definitely listened; they definitely took all factors into consideration in their decision,” Smith said. “I’m very pleased with that meeting and the process.”

Smith said the extensive alternative plan may need some adjustments before it is accepted by the acting commissioner. He also noted that the plan includes the fact SAD 68 would be willing to file a notice of intent should a contiguous regional school unit or alternative organizational structure wish to pursue some type of reorganization with the district.

“Obviously we’re pretty excited to do what we need so we can move on educationally for the communities,” Smith said.

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