Petitioners seek to have Thomaston leave Rockland-area school district

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 22, 2014, at 3:57 p.m.

THOMASTON, Maine — A second town may consider leaving the beleaguered Regional School Unit 13.

Signatures are being collected in Thomaston on a petition that asks the board of selectmen to begin the process of having the town withdraw from RSU 13.

One copy of the petition, which was left on the counter at the Thomaston Grocery store on Tuesday afternoon, had 18 signatures on it by early Wednesday morning.

Thomaston Town Clerk Joan Linscott said Wednesday that 128 signatures are required on a petition to require the selectmen to act on an issue.

The petition is being spearheaded by resident Noreen Mullaney, who was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

Marla McGeady, one of two Thomaston representatives on the RSU 13 Board, said she is not surprised by the petition, pointing out that she had heard from residents who have raised that action as a possibility.

“This does not surprise me under the current circumstances,” said McGeady, who has been on the board for three months. She said she is trying to remain optimistic but it has been difficult because of the turmoil on the board.

“There’s perpetual divisiveness,” she said to the point that people from various sides physically sit on different sides of the tables during meetings.

But most frustrating, she said, is that in the past three months, there has been nothing discussed about academics.

McGeady said she did not want to say whether she supports the effort. She acknowledged that withdrawal is a huge undertaking, pointing out that it has taken St. George three years to get to the point it is with its withdrawal plan.

St. George and RSU 13 are preparing to negotiate terms of that town’s withdrawal. St. George residents are expected to vote in November on withdrawing and, if approved, would take effect July 1, 2015.

The other Thomaston representative, Darryl Sanborn, said he would seek out the petition and sign it.

“The joining of SAD 5 and SAD 50 was a shotgun wedding at the hands of the state,” Sanborn said, adding that a divorce was needed.

The enrollment for RSU 13 in 2012-2013 was 1,960 students, with Rockland having 763, Thomaston 355, St. George 273, Cushing 205, South Thomaston 188, and Owls Head 177.

One signature on the petition was from veteran SAD 50 and then RSU 13 custodian and crosswalk monitor Sigrid Keyes. She retired as custodian two years ago after 36 years.

Keyes said she was opposed to the consolidation from the start and supports local community schools rather than larger consolidated schools.

RSU 13 Board Chairwoman Esther “Tess” Kilgour said Wednesday she would make a statement about the withdrawal effort at a meeting to be held that evening.

RSU 13 consists of the former SAD 5 (Rockland, Owls Head and South Thomaston) and SAD 50 (Thomaston, St. George, and Cushing).

 

http://bangordailynews.com/2014/01/22/news/midcoast/petitioners-seek-to-have-thomaston-leave-rockland-area-school-district/ printed on August 30, 2014