LUDLOW, Maine — The town is once again considering a proposal to withdraw from SAD 70 after enough signatures were collected to start the process.
According to Diane Hines, Ludlow town manager, a petition bearing 60 signatures of registered voters was submitted to the town’s board of selectmen at their monthly meeting in September. A public hearing on leaving the school district has been set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, at the town office.
Voters will decide the matter at the Nov. 6 election.
The town originally petitioned the state to withdraw from SAD 70 in the spring. A public hearing and town vote were held where residents gave the go-ahead to start the withdrawal process by a referendum vote of 67-36 on March 29.
Before the withdrawal process could continue, however, the state’s Education Department informed the town that the petition Ludlow submitted to first put the measure onto a ballot did not contain the required number of signatures.
To initiate a withdrawal process, a petition bearing the signatures of at least 10 percent of registered voters from the last gubernatorial election must be submitted. Ludlow submitted a petition bearing the names of 13 residents asking for the process to move ahead, which was 10 percent of the 101 votes cast in the last regular election in November 2011. The last gubernatorial election, however, occurred in 2010 with 157 residents castings ballots. Therefore, the petition submitted to the state needed to have at least 16 signatures, three more than what was submitted.
Supporters of the withdrawal plan, in the past, expressed a desire to see the town withdraw from SAD 70 and join SAD 29. SAD 70 serves the communities of Amity, Cary Plantation, Haynesville, Hodgdon, Linneus, Ludlow and New Limerick. SAD 29 serves Houlton, Hammond, Littleton and Monticello.
Supporters of withdrawal believed the town could achieve a cost savings by switching school districts, but hard numbers for what that actual savings would be have been difficult to pinpoint because any withdrawal would not happen until the 2013-14 school year at the earliest. Others expressed it was a personal preference to send their children to SAD 29 because, logistically, the school is closer, while others said it was for educational reasons.
Those opposed stated their children wanted to remain in SAD 70 with their friends.