RSU 26 member towns forming withdrawal negotiating committees

Posted Nov. 15, 2012, at 7:37 p.m.

GLENBURN, Maine — Members of the RSU 26 school board began making plans for life after their split-up during a meeting Wednesday night.

In separate referendums on Nov. 6, residents of Glenburn and Veazie — two of the three towns that make up RSU 26 — voted to pull out of the school district they formed less than three years ago.

The withdrawal votes in both seceding towns were landslides. Glenburn’s tally was 1,816 to 567. In Veazie, the count stood at 821-217. The results left Orono the RSU’s sole member, effective July 1, 2013, according to the agreements that both towns negotiated with RSU 26.

Wednesday night’s RSU board meeting at the Glenburn Town Office was the first held since the withdrawal votes. Despite the overwhelming support for breakup, it was pretty much business as usual for members from the three towns.

Doug Smith, the RSU’s current superintendent, will be serving as Glenburn’s superintendent, he said Thursday. Smith said he, along with the current business manager, technology coordinator and payroll clerk, will provide their respective services for the RSU for one year.

Also on Wednesday, board members addressed the need for Orono to begin searching for a superintendent and office space.

Because Veazie also will need the services of a superintendent, Smith said Thursday that it might make sense to go back to the school union type arrangement the two communities shared before the state required most cities and town in Maine to consolidate into regional school units.

Other matters that each of the three towns will have to address soon include making contract arrangements for student transportation and property and casualty insurance. The RSU’s contracts with Cyr Bus for transportation and the Maine School Management Association expire at the end of June of next year.

Heartburn over cost-sharing and a desire to regain control over local education were cited as reasons for starting the withdrawal process by residents of both Veazie and Glenburn. They balked at the regional school unit’s system of weighted votes.

As of this week, RSU and town officials are still assessing what the withdrawal votes will mean for Orono, Glenburn and Veazie. That’s largely because the RSU is charting some relatively new waters. RSU 26 is among the first regional school units to get this far in the breakup process.

Smith said earlier this month that the withdrawal votes mean that Glenburn and Veazie will be forming their own school departments.

Orono, however, will remain an RSU — despite the fact that it, at least initially, will be the only member.

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