St. George school district withdrawal effort makes progress

Posted June 13, 2014, at 11:09 a.m.

ST. GEORGE, Maine — Progress is being made in the effort by the town to withdraw from the Rockland-area school system.

The issue is expected to be put before town voters for final approval in November.

Interim Regional School Unit 13 Superintendent Michael Wilhelm said that one of the sticking points has concerned whether Rockland would accept St. George high school students beyond one year after the withdrawal.

“The two sides have made progress on closing gaps in the negotiations regarding a tuition agreement for St. George students, transfer of buses and the parties’ responsibilities with respect to the debt of the RSU and long-term employment contracts,” Wilhelm told the School Board last week. “The RSU’s committee continues to work toward an agreement that minimizes disruption to the education of RSU 13 students and protects the interests of the RSU and its remaining members.”

Bill Reinhardt, chair of the St. George Withdrawal Committee and the town’s board of selectmen, agreed that the two groups are close to an agreement. He said the district has indicated the RSU 13 board would vote on the agreement at its July meeting.

RSU 13 has agreed to accept St. George high school students for more than the first year, Reinhardt said.

St. George plans to operate its own kindergarten through eighth-grade school and then tuition its high school students to neighboring high schools, which could include RSU 13’s Oceanside High Schools — Oceanside West in Thomaston and Oceanside East in Rockland.

Reinhardt said once the RSU 13 board approves the agreement, it will be sent to the Maine Department of Education for the commissioner to approve.

Last month, residents of the Five-Town Community School District approved an agreement in which the district would accept 15 to 25 St. George students starting in September 2015 at Camden Hills Regional High School. That deal is contingent on St. George reaching a withdrawal agreement with RSU 13 as well as obtaining approval from the state Department of Education.

And RSU 4o Interim Superintendent Michael Cormier said that board met with St. George representatives on June 5, and he expects the board to vote on the measure at its next regular meeting on June 19.

Their agreement does not specify a minimum or maximum number of students that St. George must send to Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, Cormier said.

St. George has about 100 students in grades eight through 12 attending Oceanside High Schools in Thomaston (grades eight and nine) and Thomaston (grades 10 through 12). About 80 are in grades nine to 12.

 

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