East Millinocket and Medway school leaders will probably begin negotiating a new tuition agreement to continue sharing students within the next two weeks, Great Northern AOS Superintendent Quenten Clark said Wednesday.
East Millinocket residents voted during their town meeting on Tuesday to approve the negotiations, which are crucial to allowing Medway students to continue to attend Opal Myrick Elementary School and Schenck High School in East Millinocket and East Millinocket students to attend Medway Middle School, Clark said.
It would be a closed contract, meaning that each town’s students would have to attend those schools, Clark said, and it would go into effect July 1. Medway’s residents are expected to vote on whether to approve negotiations for an agreement at their town meeting on June 13, he said.
The tuition agreement presently calls for $8,500 per high school student and $7,500 per each elementary and middle school student charged to each town, Clark said.
Talk that Medway officials were going to open negotiations with other towns such as Millinocket or school systems such as RSU 67, which has Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln, is unfounded, said Clark and Greg Stanley, the AOS and Medway’s school committee chairman.
“Nobody is talking about taking kids out of East [Millinocket],” said Clark, whose AOS serves East Millinocket, Medway and Woodville.
Nor are Medway officials in talks with other towns to send their town’s students elsewhere, Stanley said.
The idea that Medway students might be going elsewhere arose from the recent discovery that language keeping the closed agreement closed had gone missing from the contract about five years ago, Clark said.
“Nobody can fathom why this would change five years ago,” said Clark, who speculated that the omission occurred with a typing error.
Clark, who has warned that East Millinocket faces an eventual reckoning over the future of Schenck due to escalating costs and declining enrollments, advised parents concerned about keeping Schenk going to “relax a bit and see what comes out of this.”
The talks might necessitate additional town meetings before they conclude, he said.