ORRINGTON, Maine — Residents in Orrington and nearby Dedham resoundingly endorsed a school consolidation plan that maintains local control and high school choice and also saves money.
Orrington residents voted 131-11 to support the consolidation, and Dedham’s vote was 88-4, according to unofficial election results provided by the Orrington town clerk and Dedham school board chairwoman Sue Rocha.
Since voters approved the Dedham-Orrington alternative organizational structure before the end of January, the two towns should avoid another penalty for not consolidating under the state’s 2007 law, school leaders in both towns have said.
Orrington was charged a penalty of nearly $120,000 this school year for not consolidating, and Dedham was assessed around $60,000.
Under the new AOS, each town’s school department will have its own budget and school board, and an AOS board will manage a combined superintendent and special education office.
The new AOS board will have six members — four from Orrington and two from Dedham — selected from the two school boards, and their first tasks are to hire a superintendent and create a central office budget.
The AOS office will be located at Center Drive School in Orrington.
The other key piece of the AOS was ensuring high school choice. Both Dedham Elementary School and Center Drive School in Orrington are prekindergarten through eighth grade schools, so both communities have agreed to a nonexclusive contract with Brewer High School to provide secondary education to the two towns’ high school students.
Students still can attend John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor and other high schools of their choice.