May 21, 2018
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Wiscasset gets terms of withdrawal from school district

By Larry Grard, Times Record

WISCASSET, Maine — Months after requesting it, the town’s RSU withdrawal committee considered a formal agreement Monday to withdraw from Regional School Unit 12.

In it, RSU 12 suggests July 1, 2014, as a possible date for Wiscasset to leave the school unit.

Among other issues, the 34-page proposal stipulates the town reimburse RSU 12 money the school unit paid toward Wiscasset Middle School renovations and a revolving renovation fund.

Meanwhile, the RSU withdrawal committee and the RSU 12 ad-hoc withdrawal committee remain locked in a struggle over the timing of any withdrawal. The Wiscasset committee also has made clear its misgivings toward RSU 12 regarding perceived “stonewalling.”

Raymond Poulin, a consultant for Wiscasset, said the Wiscasset group had hoped for “a timely discussion” so withdrawal could take place by July 1. In order for that to occur, residents would need to vote on the matter by June, according to committee Chairwoman Mary Myers.

Hilary Holm, chairwoman of the RSU 12 board of directors, said the Wiscasset committee could opt to change the date as it sees fit.

Holm advised, however, that a 2013 withdrawal would be unlikely.

“There is just not enough time,” she said. “The budget process begins in December.”

Wiscasset committee member Jason Downing repeated the claim that RSU 12 has “dragged its feet” in the matter.

Bill Stockmeyer, an attorney for RSU 12, said he was aware of that contention but that an orderly transition is needed.

RSU 12, he said, needs an orderly budget process for the next fiscal year. He added that it would be the “worst of all possible worlds” to force another year of membership on the town.

Poulin then expressed “general concern” regarding RSU 12’s desire to be repaid for improvements made at Wiscasset Middle School and for the revolving renovation fund.

RSU 12 board member Gerald Nault responded quickly.

“You were a member of RSU 12 when you did that, right?” Nault asked.

Stockmeyer chimed in, saying that everyone was “hands in” when RSU 12 was formed.

“Payments were made based on everyone joining together,” he said. “If Wiscasset walks away from the debt, it increases other towns’ payments. Wiscasset would be taking its assets and walking away.”

Downing responded that RSU 12 made the financial commitments of its own free will.

Only high school

Earlier, Stockmeyer noted that this process marks the first time a town that has the school unit’s high school has asked to leave that school unit.

Poulin agreed that the status of Wiscasset High School as the only high school in the eight-town school unit is important.

“The Department [of Education] will require that kids not be left out in the cold,” Poulin said.

Stockmeyer added that RSU 12 is working on establishing another high school of record.

RSU 12 Superintendent Alan Hawkins acknowledged that but was not ready to divulge the school being considered on Monday.

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