January 18, 2019
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Peru, Dixfield consider withdrawing from RSU 10

DIXFIELD, Maine — Petitions are being circulated in Peru and Dixfield that could lead to their withdrawal from RSU 10.

Lolisa Windover of Peru said a petition is in the works in her town.

“We’re considering it and will probably look into it. It’s a little complicated,” she said. “A lot of what we do depends on what RSU 10 decides to do short- and long-term. It’s a day-by-day thing.”

Recently, Superintendent Tom Ward proposed cutting costs by consolidating Dirigo and Mountain Valley high schools in Dixfield and Rumford, respectively, along with reconfiguring other schools in those two towns.

“This came out of the blue,” Windover said of the consolidation plan.

In Dixfield, a petition for withdrawal is circulating that is expected to be presented to the RSU 10 board and the commissioner of the Maine Department of Education, Sue Holmes said.

“Jon (Holmes) will be circulating the petition. Anyone who wants to sign it should contact him,” she said.

Jon Holmes could not be reached for comment.

Canton school board member Cindy Bissell said she received hundreds of emails after a newspaper report that Ward was to present his proposal at the March 12 board meeting.

“Some said they wanted to know how to get out of RSU 10. Some said they wanted to look at the options. There are a lot of different ideas but I haven’t heard of one person (leading a petition drive),” Bissell said Wednesday.

Town office personnel also said no one has approached them with the idea of circulating a petition.

The RSU 10 board this week turned thumbs down on going forward with a feasibility study of the proposed plan, and opted instead to form a committee to study short- and long-term actions that can be taken to reduce the $34 million budget.

Board member Ronnie Hutchinson of Carthage said she has heard of no movement by people from her town to start a withdrawal petition. Carthage Town Clerk Linda Berry said she had not heard of such movements, either.

More than 600 people turned out for Monday’s RSU 10 board meeting to voice their opposition to merging Mountain Valley and Dirigo high schools into one at Mountain Valley. The proposal also calls for changing Dirigo High School into a junior high school for eighth- and ninth-graders from both regions, as well as adding fifth-graders to Mountain Valley and Dirigo middle schools.

Selectmen in Byron are also forming a committee to explore the steps that must be taken to consider pulling out of RSU 10, Selectman Anne Simmons-Edmunds said Tuesday. The reason: Save money. The town pays RSU 10 $241,000 for educating its 24 students this year, she said.

The 2008 Maine School Consolidation Law resulted in the formation of RSU 10 from SADs 39 in Buckfield, 21 in Dixfield and 43 in Rumford. There are 11 towns in the system: Rumford, Mexico, Byron, Roxbury, Dixfield, Canton, Carthage, Peru, Hartford, Sumner and Buckfield. Hanover pays tuition for its students to attend RSU 10 schools.

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