AURORA, Maine — Members of the CSD 8 school board this week voted to reject a proposed nonexclusive contract with Brewer High School, following the lead of their sister school unit, SAD 63.
Combined, the two school units serve students in seven communities. CSD 8’s member towns are Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn, while SAD 63 comprises Holden, Eddington and Clifton.
David Anderson, who serves as superintendent of both school units, also is superintendent of AOS 81, a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade unit that serves pupils from all seven towns.
CSD 8’s unanimous vote not to sign a proposed tuition agreement with Brewer High School took place during a meeting Wednesday night at Airline Community School, Anderson said Friday.
Anderson said that both CSD 8 and SAD 63 need a nonexclusive contract with a public high school to comply with state law and avoid financial penalties.
While Anderson said both units are close to brokering a deal with Brewer, where most of their high school students historically have enrolled. The stumbling block that arose in recent weeks is the wording of a draft 10-year contract proposed by Brewer school officials.
The Brewer document was modeled after one created by Mount Desert Island Regional School System and its sending communities, Brewer Superintendent Daniel Lee said earlier this month.
Among other things, the proposed agreement would have allowed Brewer to charge its sending districts for a portion of debt service associated with money borrowed for improvements at Brewer High School.
Anderson said that legal counsel for both sending schools earlier offered a document titled “Exhibit A” that included language that aimed to clarify some of the terms in the Brewer proposal but that Brewer school committee members voted not to accept the proposed changes because they did not believe they were necessary.
Because time essentially has run out for negotiating contracts with Brewer during the current school year, Anderson said there is no way either unit will be able to avoid state penalties, their second in two years, for failing to consolidate under the 2007 state law.
The penalties, which Anderson said already have been factored into next year’s budget plans, amount to $16,442 for CSD 8 and $184,441 for SAD 63.
“So, yes, there will be penalties, but at the end of the day, you have to do what you think is right,” Anderson said.
Despite the lack of contracts, both CSD 8 and SAD 63 students still will be able to attend Brewer High School, Anderson said Friday and Superintendent Daniel Lee confirmed last week.
“I do want to stress that we’ll continue to work toward an agreement and that we’re optimistic that we’ll get there,” Anderson said.
In the meantime, he said, “We have a long-standing relationship with Brewer. We will continue to send students to Brewer and they will continue to welcome our students.”