HAMPDEN, Maine — Voters in all three SAD 22 members towns Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to add Frankfort to their family.
The combined unofficial tally was 574-127, SAD 22 Superintendent Richard Lyons said Tuesday night, about an hour and a half after the polls in Hampden, Newburgh and Winterport closed at 8 p.m.
“That’s about an 81 percent positive vote. That’s pretty overwhelming,” Lyons said. “We’re very appreciative [of SAD 22 member town voters] for endorsing the position our board took in January. That’s a very strong affirmation.”
In Hampden, voters approved bringing Frankfort on board 280-52, Hampden Town Clerk Denise Hodson reported.
Newburgh Town Clerk Cynthia Grant said voters there favored the move in a 71-15 vote.
In Winterport, the tally was 223-60, Lyons said.
Frankfort now belongs to RSU 20 — whose members include Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Northport, Searsmont, Searsport, Stockton Springs and Swanville — but voted to secede from the regional school unit and close Frankfort Elementary School last November.
Frankfort residents voted 181-59 to join SAD 22 on March 28.
According to Lyons, elementary and middle school students have the option of staying with RSU 20 for the next school year, but after that they will be absorbed by schools in Winterport.
For the next five years, Frankfort students will have the choice of going to Hampden Academy or Belfast Area High School. In subsequent years, they will attend high school in Hampden, Lyons said.
Lyons said he expects that about 100 of Frankfort’s roughly 175 kindergarten through grade 12 students will chose to attend SAD 22 schools when classes resume this fall.
Lyons called the addition of Frankfort a “win-win” in that it is expected to ease Frankfort’s education cost burden while enhancing SAD 22’s overall fiscal health.
That’s because state subsidy levels are based on both enrollment and town valuation. With a higher number of students and a lower overall valuation, SAD 22 members can expect to see an increase in state aid.
In anticipation of the reorganization, the school department and the towns affected have held a total of six public meetings or presentations over the last few months, which an estimated 300 people have attended in all.
The purpose of these meetings was to educate residents and students as well as to answer questions and address any concerns they have with the expansion, SAD 22’s first since 1970.
SAD 22 plans to add a seat to represent Frankfort, according to previous Bangor Daily News reports.