ST. GEORGE, Maine — The town will begin drawing up a plan to withdraw from Regional School Unit 13.
Residents voted 227 to 82 at the polls Monday night to begin the development of a formal withdrawal plan.
The approval means a four-person committee will be created to develop a plan to withdraw. The committee will consist of a town official such as a selectman, a school board representative from St. George, a member of the town education committee and a resident. The town also would have to negotiate terms of the withdrawal with the district and the state education commissioner would need to approve any withdrawal plan before it could occur.
Town residents will get a final vote in May 2014 or November 2014.
“The handwriting was on the wall. We will certainly work to negotiate with them and work toward what is best for kids. It will be amicable,” said RSU 13 Board Chairwoman Esther “Tess” Kilgour of Rockland.
Sentiment for withdrawing from the district has been growing during the past two years, fueled largely by the RSU 13 board’s decision to move eighth-graders from the St. George School to the Oceanside High School West in neighboring Thomaston.
Town residents voiced concern in October about the impact of continuing budget cuts on education offered in the district.
In a nonbinding referendum in November, residents supported continuing with the process of separating from RSU 13. RSU 13 also consists of Rockland, Thomaston, Owls Head, South Thomaston and Cushing.
Education committee members and selectmen have met with superintendents from the Five-Town Community School District, made up of Camden, Rockport, Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville; and RSU 40, composed of Union, Warren, Waldoboro, Friendship and Washington. Committee members and selectmen discussed whether those districts could accept the approximately 100 high school students from St. George. Talks were positive, according to the town.
St. George voters also elected Marguerite Cutroni and Tammy Willey to the board of selectmen. They were unopposed.
George Emery was re-elected without opposition to the RSU 13 board.