School merger plan goes to boards; middle school closure process to start

JAY — Regional Planning Committee members voted 6-0 Tuesday, with five members absent, to send the school consolidation plan to the Jay School Committee and RSU 36 Board of Directors.

Those boards will take up the plan in early November to vote on sending it to the Maine Department of Education for review. The final vote on the plan was not scheduled until Tuesday, Oct. 26, but due to there being little change in the plan from the previous review two weeks ago, those in attendance decided to move the process along.

The Planning Committee will still hold its 6 p.m. Oct. 26 meeting at the Jay High School library to hear a presentation from the Teaching and Learning Subcommittee.

RSU 36 Superintendent Sue Pratt reviewed the information she and Jay Superintendent Robert Wall received from an attorney from Drummond Woodsum in answer to questions they had.

One question was about the timeline necessary for RSU 36 to close the Livermore Falls Middle School, as recommended by a subcommittee. If the reorganization plan is approved, a new 13-member school board would be elected in April and they would make the decision about closing the school. To be prepared in time to close the school and to send Livermore Falls Middle School students to Jay as of July 1, 2011, the closure process needs to be started soon, Pratt said.

Two other questions were how the school closure process could be kept separate from the reorganization plan, and if the reorganization vote fails, could the school remain open?

It’s a 12-week process to close a school and the final say in RSU 36’s case is that voters in Livermore Falls and Livermore would have to approve the closure, Pratt said.

She plans to start the process to close the middle school with RSU 36 Board of Directors very soon. If the consolidation fails, then the board may rescind its vote to close the school, she said.

The reorganization plan will not require the school to be closed, the opinion stated. However, due to timing considerations, the referendum vote to close the school will occur after the referendum vote on the reorganization plan, which is proposed for Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011. The process to close the school will overlap with the process to reorganize, she said.

“In our view, while the matter is not free from doubt, such overlapping processes are permissible,” attorney E. William Stockmeyer wrote.

To start the school closure process, RSU 36 needs to have two-thirds of the full elected membership or voting power of the school district vote to close the school, Pratt said. She would then need to file a closure report with the commissioner of education. School officials would also need to determine costs to be borne if the school closing referendum fails.

A referendum vote would be held in both Livermore and Livermore Falls on the closure. The vote is held in the town where the school is located and in any town of the district that sends all of its students to the school, Pratt said.

In order to conduct the referendum, school officials first must determine the dollar amount to be included in the referendum vote that the voting town or towns must pay if it/they vote to keep their schools open, the legal opinion stated.

Once the Department of Education has approved the cost the town(s) must bear if the vote is to keep the school open, the RSU may proceed with the referendum.

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 's picture

Bottom line is that the area schools need to combine!

All the rest is just the same small town politics that have held us back from doing the right thing. That is why we the federal government has mandated it. As far as getting involved, the people that have been involved are not participating 5 of the 11 where missing when this was voted on!?!

 's picture

Homeschooling is always an option...

if you don't like the way things are being run. ;)

ERIC RODZEN's picture

Another option...

Another option would be to actually GET INVOLVED with the process, and not just sit behind the computer and complain.

 's picture

It seems to me that this

It seems to me that this process is certainly getting rushed through, even though the taxpayers have not had any informational meetings with a chance to ask questions. I have a problem with Jay taxpayers being asked to foot 71% of the cost and the other two towns having a combined 29% of the cost while Jay will have less votes on the committee. As Jay will pay the biggest share of the cost, the other two towns can decide to spend any amount they want and we can just pony up the money. It would be so much fairer to pay by a per student amount. Jay taxpayers have spent the money for years to keep our buildings in tip top shape while SAD 36 has done as little as possible to keep their buildings in good repair. Now we are going to be asked to turn all our buildings over to a board that will be run by 7-6 majority, with Jay having only 6 votes. No one can tell us that we are going to save any money beyond the fine the state is charging us. We have been told no positions will be lost. If no positions are lost, and the contracts renegotiated it would seem that Jay taxpayers will be spending more than before. We all know that employees won't take less money than they are now getting, bringing the lower paid employees up to the higher paid positions. If what I have read in the papers is true, losing control of our property, control of what programs are taught, and paying 71% of the cost, just doesn't seem to be a good idea to me.


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