Wiscasset receives preliminary approval to withdraw from RSU 12

Posted June 06, 2013, at 2:19 p.m.
Last modified June 09, 2013, at 1:44 p.m.

WISCASSET, Maine — Town Manager Laurie Smith received word from the Department of Education last week that Wiscasset may get conditional approval to withdraw from Regional School Unit 12, known as Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit.

The RSU will hold a public hearing on July 9, after which the RSU withdrawal committee has 30 days to submit a final agreement to Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen, who will consider granting approval to withdraw.

If that happens, the town’s three schools would become their own district, Smith said. In the future Wiscasset could join another RSU or develop an alternative organization structure.

In a June 2012 referendum, voters began the process to withdraw, according to Smith.

“Town officials certainly had concerns about the costs, about local control and about the education quality,” Smith said Thursday.

“The biggest thing I heard [from residents] was local control of the schools,” Jeff Slack, a Wiscasset selectman who sits on the withdrawal committee, said Thursday. “People kept coming back to, ‘We are a four-person school board out of 22 other members, so it was a really large school board and we were the largest payer into the RSU 12 unit and we didn’t feel like we were being heard.”

Besides Wiscasset, RSU 12 includes the towns of Alna, Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville, Westport Island, Whitefield and Windsor.

The public hearing is at 7 p.m. July 9 at Wiscasset Middle School.

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