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November 12, 2008
Reorganization plan killed by voters
KINGFIELD, Maine (STPNS) -- NORTH FRANKLIN -- The fate of a newly created Western Mountain Regional School District was decided when voters from the four area school districts came out to the polls on Nov. 4. Three of the four districts voted in opposition to the plan to consolidate MSADs #58, #9, Highland and Coplin plantations school districts into one single district that would have stretched from Vienna to the Canadian border. The Town of Highland Plantation voted yes to approve the plan by a vote of 23 to 17. For the plan to be approved, the voters in both MSADs #58 and #9 would have had to accept the merger without consideration of how the plantations voted.
In MSAD #58, 72.65 percent of the voters said "No" with 1,703 votes to 641. In the MSAD #9 communities the vote was closer with 55.44 percent of the voters opposed to the tune of 5,439 votes and 4,372 were in favor of the plan.
In all of the 16 communities voting on this issue, 13 were not in favor. In addition to Highland Plantation, the Town of Vienna (183-169) and the Town of Chesterville (341-339) approved the Regional Planning Committee's plan to merge.
In the larger towns of Farmington (2,207- 1,793) and Wilton (1,379- 1,173) the votes were closer.
In MSAD #58 towns, Eustis drew the closest vote with 155 saying "Yes" to consolidate and 202 saying "No."
In all of the 16 communities involved, 7,215 opposed it and 5,047 thought it was a good idea.
Under the current law MSAD #58 is subject to a penalty of lost state subsidy which relates to about one percent of its budget. MSAD #9 is looking at a possible $400,000 reduction in its state share.
In anticipation of the vote to kill the consolidation plan, last month MSAD #9 directors instructed Superintendent Michael Cormier to pursue a new plan to submit to the Department of Education. With just about 100 students under the 2,500 student mandatory minimum, MSAD #9 is attempting to reorganize with its own nine towns. It will still need to show that the five percent savings will still occur under transportation, special education and try to meet the other requirements of the law.
MSAD #58 will meet this Thursday to discuss what its next steps will be. There is a possibility of trying to work with the Rangeley Union should the next legislature make amendments to the law such as allowing districts to count tuitioned students from places like the unorganized territories or Carrabassett Valley.
If this is possible, an alternate plan may be able to be reached with Rangeley to share central office responsibilities and costs.
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