GLENBURN, Maine — Residents of two of the three towns that comprise RSU 26 voted to pull out of the school district they formed less than three years ago in separate referendums Tuesday.
The withdrawal votes in both Glenburn and Veazie were landslides. The final tally in Glenburn was 1,816 to 567. In Veazie, the final tally was 821-217. The results of the two referendums leave Orono the RSU’s sole member.
The withdrawals take effect on July 1, 2013, according to the withdrawal agreements that both towns negotiated with RSU 26. Despite the split-up, the agreements allow the three towns to continue sharing some administrative services as well as some teachers.
Heartburn over cost-sharing and a desire to regain control over the education of their children were cited as reasons for starting the withdrawal process by residents of both Veazie and Glenburn. Residents and elected officials from those two towns also balked at the regional school unit’s system of weighted votes.
Glenburn and Veazie both have received initial approval to withdraw from Maine’s education commissioner.
Glenburn and Veazie voters heavily favored forming committees to explore withdrawal during special elections held in March. Residents behind the withdrawal bids said the benefits of regaining full control of their schools outweigh the benefits that were supposed to come from merging.
Tuesday’s withdrawal votes were the second of two required by state law. In order for the withdrawal to pass in the November election, at least half of the number of residents who voted in the latest gubernatorial election had to cast votes, and a majority of those voters had to favor withdrawal. Both of those conditions were met Tuesday night.