May 25, 2018
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Would it still be a regional school district if two of the three member towns leave?

By Liz Gotthelf, Journal Tribune

SACO, Maine — In the aftermath of last week’s election, Regional School Unit 23 officials are coming up with a gameplan to prepare for the future.

On Nov. 5, residents in Saco voted to withdraw from RSU 23, which covers Saco, Dayton and Old Orchard Beach. Dayton is scheduled to vote next week whether to withdraw as well.

Saco and Dayton, if the town chooses to withdraw, will leave the RSU at the end of the fiscal year — June 30, 2014.

The Saco contingent of the school board, with two newly elected members being sworn in next month, will serve as the transition board for the future School Administrative Unit until a Saco MSAU board is voted in on Dec. 10. The new MSAU board will have seven members, each representing a ward in Saco.

RSU 23 attorney Dick Spencer led a discussion at Tuesday night’s RSU 23 meeting at Saco City Hall on how to “tease apart” the RSU.

Should Dayton withdraw, Old Orchard Beach would be the only municipality left in RSU 23.

Currently, there are two Old Orchard Beach representatives on the board, and Spencer said, if Old Orchard Beach were the only municipality in the RSU, it would need to have five members on the new RSU board.

Spencer said, by state statute, a joint meeting can be held by municipalities of an RSU to change the composition of the board. Spencer said after the Dayton election that a meeting should be held so that a new RSU board will be in place by July of next year.

Spencer said there needs to be “a parallel process,” with both the RSU and Saco — and Dayton, assuming it leaves the RSU — thinking about the future, and the RSU should have a transition committee to develop a budget for Old Orchard Beach and make personnel decisions.

Spencer pointed out that a new school board for the Saco MSAU will be elected just a few days after new Saco representatives are sworn in to the RSU board.

“Realistically, it seems to me, what everyone should do is take a fairly deep breath until that new board is elected,” said Spencer.

RSU board member Ron Michaud noted the withdrawal plan states the transition team must meet with the superintendent by Dec. 1.

Superintendent Patrick Phillips said in the short term, the Saco MSAU and the RSU should look at developing a job chart, delineating how each unit’s administrative needs will be staffed, before they move forward with making other decisions.

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