ROCKLAND, Maine — Rockland residents overwhelmingly rejected a referendum that would have begun the process of the city withdrawing from the regional school district.
City voters also elected a political newcomer to the Rockland City Council, turning out incumbent Mayor Frank Isganitis.
The withdrawal referendum failed 919 to 310. A second referendum to have the city explore other educational options was approved 786 to 410. School officials, however, said that this second referendum was not a concern but that the withdrawal referendum would have blocked the effort to reorganize the schools in the district.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Regional School Unit 13 Board Chairman Steve Roberts said about the reorganization. “The city has put a lot of confidence in us.”
The plan calls for consolidating the two district high schools into one at Oceanside East in Rockland, combining the two middle schools into one at what is now Oceanside West, closing the Lura Libby School in Thomaston, and Gilford Butler School in South Thomaston.
The school board is scheduled to vote Thursday night to give concept approval to the reorganization.
The withdrawal referendum was spurred by a petition drive led by Rockland board member Esther “Tess” Kilgour. Kilgour withdrew from the school board race last month. She still received 250 votes. Elected to the school board Tuesday were newcomer Jess Butler with 787 votes and incumbent Nancy Jeffers with 751 votes.
In the race for a single city council seat, William Jillson defeated Isganitis 528 to 476. A third candidate, Deborah Atwell, withdrew from the race last month. She received 186 votes.
Jillson said he was surprised by his victory, saying he does not know what to credit his win.
Isganitis was completing his first three-year term on the council. He has served as mayor for the past year. The mayor post in Rockland is largely ceremonial with the councilor moderating meetings.