June 23, 2018
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Ellsworth councilors to weigh support for RSU 24 withdrawal

By Mario Moretto, BDN Staff

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Councilors next week will decide whether to throw their weight behind a committee’s effort to have the city withdraw from Regional School Unit 24.

Councilors will meet at 8 a.m. Friday, July 27, in Council Chambers. The resolve language on deck for Friday, written by Council Chairman Gary Fortier at the request of the withdrawal committee, states that the council supports putting withdrawal on November’s ballot.

It also states that should voters approve withdrawal, the city should hold a special election as soon as possible to elect a new school board by the 2013-2014 school year and that the city’s new school district should accept tuition students from other communities, including the rest of RSU 24, “within the capacity of [Ellsworth’s] buildings.”

In June, voters in Ellsworth turned out 824 to 383 in favor of pursuing withdrawal. Residents in Hancock and Lamoine also lodged votes to leave the RSU. Residents in each of the three towns have expressed dissatisfaction with the three-year-old RSU. In Ellsworth, secessionists say they have seen increased costs for Ellsworth’s share of education since the RSU was created and that residents have lost control of their children’s education.

Since then, all three communities have formed committees to hash out the details of their withdrawal bids, which will have to be approved by Commissioner of Education Stephen Bowen and go to another public vote.

Ellsworth’s withdrawal committee hopes to have the plan on the ballot for residents this November.

RSU 24 also serves Eastbrook, Franklin, Gouldsboro, Mariaville, Sorrento, Steuben, Sullivan, Waltham and Winter Harbor.

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an error. The story stated that Ellsworth’s successful secession will mean the transfer of Ellsworth High School, which currently serves all 12 communities in RSU 24, back to city ownership -- leaving the other 11 towns without a high school. Sumner Memorial High School in Sullivan also serves RSU 24.

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