DIXFIELD — The Dixfield Withdrawal Committee will meet at 6 p.m. March 21 to discuss a counterproposal to RSU 10's proposed agreement with the town.
The decision followed a 60-minute closed session with Dan Stockford, lawyer for the withdrawal committee, Wednesday night.
The move to consider withdrawal from the school district was prompted by a suggestion early last year to combine Dirigo and Mountain Valley high schools to save money.
RSU 10's proposal calls for:
* Developing a 10-year capital plan for Dirigo High School in Dixfield, and all other RSU 10 schools, by region. RSU 10 towns are Canton, Carthage, Dixfield, Peru, Buckfield, Hartford, Sumner, Byron, Mexico, Roxbury, Rumford and Hanover.
* Providing secondary educational and co-curricular program opportunities that are virtually equivalent in all RSU 10 schools;
* Providing technology for remote learning opportunities and other joint or shared instruction; and
* Keeping Dirigo High School open.
The decision to keep the school open would be reassessed if:
* Student enrollment for grades nine-12 drops below 200;
* The State Board of Education approves a replacement school to serve all high school students in RSU 10, with debt service qualifying for state subsidy;
* The school has been substantially destroyed by fire or other hazard, or is determined to be unusable for health or safety reasons;
* There is a substantial change in state funding for education;
* RSU 10 is reorganized; and
* Dixfield votes to establish a withdrawal committee or otherwise votes to pursue reorganization as, or as part of, a separate school administrative unit from RSU 10.
In the case of student enrollment dropping below 200 at Dirigo or Mountain Valley high schools, RSU 10 will make reasonable efforts to consolidate the middle and high schools to keep both high schools open.
The agreement is contingent upon a positive vote in Dixfield, and rescinding the town’s prior vote to petition to establish and fund a withdrawal committee.
Also, RSU10 must give at least two years notice to the affected towns before initiating closure of a high school. Closing any school is also subject to a local referendum.
RSU 10 Superintendent Tom Ward said Drummond and Woodsum lawyer Bill Stockmeyer drew up the agreement. He said he wants one that has an equal impact on all towns and schools in RSU 10.
Committee member Bruce Ross said once the counterproposal is completed, it would be sent to the RSU 10 board for review.
Dixfield residents approved establishing a withdrawal committee late last year, along with $50,000 to fund associated costs. If voters should rescind that vote, most of the money would not be needed.