FRANKFORT, Maine — After a four-year effort, Frankfort voters approved a proposal Thursday to join SAD 22.
The proposal was approved by two-thirds of the 240 voters who turned out at Frankfort Elementary School — which would be closed next year as a result of the school district switch. The final tally was 181-59 against.
“I think it was a pretty good turnout. It was far more than we normally get,” said Frankfort Selectman Alan Gordon on Friday. “We normally get 150 or so total, and that margin was great.”
SAD 22 members Hampden, Winterport and Newburgh will vote April 9 on whether to accept Frankfort as a new member.
“It’s been a long process, and It’s exciting to see us get to this point, but we’re still waiting for the last vote,” Gordon said.
Frankfort now belongs to RSU 20 — whose members include Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Northport, Searsmont, Searsport, Stockton Springs and Swanville.
“We are pleased that Frankfort residents have endorsed joining our district and we are hoping citizens in our district will follow suit on April 9th,” said Kelly Bickmore, chairwoman of SAD 22’s board of directors. “Adding Frankfort students to the district will expand academic opportunities for all students.”
Gabe Baker, father of a second-grader and a fifth-grader, agrees, even though switching districts and closing Frankfort Elementary could mean the loss of his wife’s second-grade teaching job there.
“We have professional priorities, but we also have parental priorities,” said Baker, the chairman of the Frankfort Reorganization Planning Committee. “We know the reality of this is that it will be better for our kids. And the last time this kind of decision was made, it carried on for 60 years.”
Gordon said the desire for change is to minimize geographic distance and provide children with greater opportunities — especially now that Hampden has opened its new $49.2 million high school and community center.