MACHIAS, Maine — About seven people showed up for a public hearing at Rose Gaffney Elementary School in Machias, and another 15 turned out at the East Machias Town Office on Monday night to hear Union 102 Superintendent Scott Porter explain an alternative organizational structure for school systems.
Such an alternative structure will be voted on in each of the 11 potential member towns in an attempt to create the Machias Bay Area School System. The 11 towns are Cutler, East Machias, Jonesboro, Machias, Machiasport, Marshfield, Northfield, Roque Bluffs, Wesley, Whiting and Whitneyville.
“We’re already doing this,” Porter told the Machias group. The Union 102 Central Office already is providing services for the area towns, either through the union or by contract. This merger saved more than $135,000 this year, he said.
Porter said that creating an alternative organizational structure would affect only the central office. Each of the 11 towns would retain its own school board, receive its own subsidy check and have control over its own school. Any one of the towns also could vote to withdraw from the AOS.
The reason for forming an AOS, Porter said, is to avoid the state’s penalties for failure to consolidate.
Porter said that this year, for example, Machias would have been hit with a $47,000 penalty. Next year, that rises to $54,000.
“And it will keep going up,” he said.
The total penalties for all 11 towns next year will be $216,978 if an AOS is not formed. Those penalty amounts are deducted from any state education subsidy the town would receive.
“As your superintendent, I certainly recommend voting this in,” Porter said. “This is a way of maximizing local control.”
Voting on forming an AOS will take place in each of the 11 towns on April 29.
Public hearings on the AOS issue are set for tonight at Marshfield and Whitneyville, April 13 at Whiting and Cutler, and April 15 at Machiasport.