LIVERMORE — Leaders from at least four towns plan to meet with town and school officials July 29 at Murray Hall in Livermore Falls to begin a new discussion on school consolidation.
Livermore select board administrative assistant Kurt Schaub is leading the charge with Fayette, Jay and Livermore Falls town managers. Winthrop Town Manager Cornell Knight and representatives from that town also will be invited, Schaub said.
Residents in those towns rejected state-mandated consolidation with other school systems and got a one-year reprieve from the resulting financial penalty. The combined fines totaled more than $400,000.
With that in mind, town managers met recently for lunch to discuss what they might be able to do.
"We have a year," Schaub said.
They don't know what is going to happen with the citizen initiative in November to repeal the school law, he said. If that question is rejected in a referendum, the towns and school systems will be up against the same problem next year.
"If we don't do something, we will be facing a penalty," Schaub said. "We've got to get the conversation going to see if there is something we can do better for the kids and taxpayers. That is our common goal."
Otherwise, the cost of education will continue to go up, as will property taxes, and better educational opportunities for schoolchildren may not be available, he said.
Schaub plans to ask his select board Monday which member wants to represent them at the July 29 meeting.
Livermore Falls Selectman Jim Collins will represent that town and Steve Barker will represent Jay. Fayette Town Manager Mark Robinson said he would ask his board and share information with the School Committee about the talks.
The Livermore/Livermore Falls school system and Jay School Department have already appointed members from those boards to serve on a committee to develop a survey about consolidation to be sent to residents. Fayette is also being asked to send representatives.