Newry waiting for state OK to name withdrawal committee

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NEWRY — Selectmen and other residents learned early Tuesday evening that the board must wait for permission from the Maine Department of Education before assembling a school withdrawal committee.

“The Department of Education sent us a notice saying, ‘You can’t appoint anyone until we tell you to,'” Selectman Brooks Morton said.

Believing that the department will allow them to proceed, selectmen scheduled another meeting on the matter for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, in the Town Office.

Kelly Scott, Newry’s deputy town clerk and selectmen’s secretary, said the board and residents interested in serving on the committee spent about 40 minutes Tuesday discussing the SAD 44 cost-sharing formula.

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She said the board learned that while pursuing withdrawal from SAD 44, another group can meet with the district to possibly change the formula.

At the board’s Oct. 7 meeting, Morton and Selectman Gary Wight decided to convene an emergency meeting Oct. 14 to assemble a school withdrawal committee.

Newry voters decided Sept. 24 to continue the multistep withdrawal process from SAD 44. Other towns in the district are Bethel, Greenwood, Woodstock, and Andover.

Andover residents also voted Sept. 24 to leave the district, but the town will not be officially out until June 2015.

Newry’s withdrawal process began after resident Jim Sysko circulated a petition, citing the large amount of money Newry pays to SAD 44 and the quality of education their students receive.

Once Newry selectmen receive permission to proceed, Morton said Tuesday night, they have to appoint a committee to create a withdrawal agreement.

The committee must be comprised of one municipal officer, one member of the general public, one member of the petitioning group and one member of the SAD 44 Board of Directors, which represents Newry.

The choice for a selectman will be between Wight and Morton, because board Chairman Wendy Hanscom works for SAD 44 and choosing her could be construed as a conflict of interest. Current Newry directors are Bonnie Largess and Whitney Gray.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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