June 23, 2018
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St. George voters back further study into RSU 13 withdrawal

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ST. GEORGE, Maine — Voters agreed Tuesday to continue exploring whether the town should withdraw from Regional School Unit 13.

In a non-binding referendum, residents voted 495 to 134 in favor of withdrawing from the district, operating a kindergarten through eighth-grade school in town and offering a choice of high schools for its older students.

The voting for the withdrawal question was done in the same room but separate from the official polls for statewide voting, the town manager noted, because of the advisory nature of the vote.

There were 629 total votes cast on the withdrawal question, fewer than one half of the number who cast votes (1,551) in the presidential race.

Residents who attended a public hearing two weeks ago voiced support, saying a yes vote would allow the town to have some leverage in its discussions with the RSU 13 Board.

Residents have been upset by the board’s decision to transfer eighth graders from the St. George School to Oceanside High School West in neighboring Thomaston. Residents also expressed concern about the quality of the education provided by the district following years of budget cuts.

Some who supported a yes vote at the public hearing acknowledged, however, that the new superintendent and new board chairwoman appeared to be more willing to listen to the community.

On Wednesday, Town Education Committee Chairman Terry Driscoll said that the matter of how to proceed now rests with the Board of Selectmen. The committee, he stressed, served as an advisory panel to the board and worked for two years to provide information on the district and to offer options.

John Snow, chairman of the board of selectmen, said he expects the issue to be discussed by the board and education committee at a Nov. 19 meeting.

RSU 13 consists of Rockland, St. George, Thomaston, Owls Head, South Thomaston, and Cushing.

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