Katahdin voters to make decision on consolidation

Posted June 22, 2011, at 8:19 p.m.

East Millinocket and Medway voters will decide Thursday whether to allow both towns’ school systems to form an alternative organization structure, and thereby avoid $108,000 in fines for violating the state’s school consolidation law.

Residents in the third town that is part of the Union 113 school system, Woodville, will hold ia referendum on June 28, with an organizational meeting of the AOS board set for the following day if voters approve, Union 113 Superintendent of Schools Quenten Clark said. The AOS must be formed by July 1 to conform with the law.

“We are cutting it kind of close,” Clark said Wednesday.

East Millinocket’s voters should vote at the Town Office and Medway’s should report to Medway’s Public Safety Building, Union 113 board Chairman Greg Stanley said.

Forming the AOS would save the three towns about $108,000 next year in fines levied on municipalities that fail to comply with the reorganization law. Clark has said that East Millinocket faces an approximately $60,000 fine; Medway, about $40,000; and Woodville, the smallest of the three towns, about $8,000.

Stanley said consolidating East Millinocket, Medway and Woodville schools as an AOS would help guarantee the continued life of Schenck High School, which serves the three towns.

“It commits the towns a little more to each other, maybe,” Stanley said Wednesday. “East Millinocket and Medway have been very good neighbors and worked very well together for several years. Speaking from a Medway point of view, I think it’s a good thing to commit to.”

An AOS is a combination of two or more school administrative units joined to provide administrative and educational services for municipalities, in which, according to a definition provided by the Department of Education, each member entity maintains its own budget, has its own school board, and is operated as a separate unit except for administrative services and those educational services indicated in the AOS plan.

As an AOS, the union would keep its forms of administration, and parents, staff and students probably would see no tangible day-to-day changes in the system’s operations, Clark has said.

Another AOS benefit: access to state education funds that would help pay for school building construction and renovation, a key point given that Schenck’s roof is leaky in two or three places and will eventually need replacing, Clark said.

“It’s functional at the moment,” Clark said.

Union 113 board member Robert Leathers did not return calls seeking comment on Wednesday.

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