By Diana Bowley of the BDN Staff: GUILFORD - It took three revisions, but the state Department of Education has approved the school administrative reorganization plan submitted by SAD 4, SAD 46, and the towns of Willimantic and Harmony.
A referendum vote on the plan will be held on Jan. 27 in the communities of Guilford, Sangerville, Abbot, Parkman, Wellington, and Cambridge in SAD 4; Dexter, Garland, Exeter and Ripley in SAD 46; Willimantic; and Harmony.
“It’s certainly been a very interesting process. It’s been a little bit of a moving target,” SAD 46 Superintendent Kevin Jordan said Thursday. “I”m comfortable the regional planning committee has put together a plan that we can present to the SAD 46 communities.”
Jordan said he expects his board will take a position at its Jan. 7 meeting before the referendum vote. A public hearing on the plan for SAD 46 residents will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20, in the Dexter High School cafeteria.
“The community is going to have to decide whether this is going to save them some money and improve the education of children,” Jordan said.
SAD 4 Superintendent Paul Stearns also called the process an interesting one. He said Thursday a public hearing for SAD 4 communities will be held at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14 in the Piscataquis Community Middle School cafeteria. It is expected SAD 4 directors also will take a position on the reorganization plan at their Tuesday, Dec. 9, meeting.
Willimantic town officials have already taken an official stance in opposition to the plan, according to Selectwoman Linda Packard. A public informational meeting has already been held.
Packard said the move would actually hurt the town since the town’s education surplus would be shared by the Regional School Unit. Some of the children the town had anticipated would attend school have relocated so it is expected about $60,000 will lapse to surplus, she said. In addition, Packard said there is no guarantee the town can retain school choice for all children in the town even though it’s written in the RSU plan.
Packard said the town received $3,800 in state subsidy in 2007-2008 and $12,000 in 2008.
“It’s a small price to pay for our independence and what’s best for our kids,” Packard said.
Principal Mike Tracy of Harmony Elementary School said an information meeting will be held for Harmony residents at 7 p.m. Jan. 6 at the Harmony School gymnasium.
“I would hope that folks come out to get informed on this very important issue,” Tracy said.
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