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.