ANDOVER — The Withdrawal Committee plans to submit its plan to the SAD 44 board and Superintendent David Murphy sometime next week.
Committee member and Andover Selectman Susan Merrow said once the withdrawal plan is submitted, negotiations between the committee and the board can begin.
She said the plan has three parts:
1. Andover leaving SAD 44;
2. Establishing items the town wants to take when it leaves SAD 44, such as the Andover Elementary School and its contents, and several buses to replace those that were given to SAD 44 when Andover joined the district in the late 1960s; and
3. Presenting an outline of how the town will educate its approximately 100 students in grades K-12.
Murphy said via email that he looks forward to reading the plan.
Merrow said part of the agreement includes honoring the town’s share of any contracts currently in effect at SAD 44, providing transportation to whichever schools grades 6-12 will attend and myriad other items.
She said the committee has recently hired a third attorney specifically experienced in town withdrawals from school districts. He is Daniel Stockford of the law firm of Brann and Isaacson of Lewiston.
When Andover residents voted to begin the withdrawal procedure, they also agreed to use up to $24,000 from the town.
Merrow said Stockford has worked with other towns in the state in their efforts to withdraw from school districts.
The committee is also working with two pro bono lawyers who are seasonal residents of the town and former superintendents Ray Freve of Plymouth and Jack Turcotte of Arundel.
Among the research conducted by the Withdrawal Committee is whether neighboring RSU 10 could accommodate the 70 or so middle and high school students who live in Andover.
RSU 10 Superintendent Tom Ward said Mountain Valley middle and high schools have sufficient space to accommodate the students if their parents should decide to send them to one of the schools. Students could also be tuitioned to SAD 44, or another school if desired.
Merrow said the Withdrawal Committee is also working on a draft budget that will provide sufficient funds for the town’s 100 students. Andover’s share of the SAD 44 budget is currently between $500,000 and $600,000, she said. She doubts that the budget drafted for Andover to go its own way will be less expensive.
A move by the SAD 44 board during the past two school years to close the small elementary school triggered the townspeople to begin the process for withdrawal.
The Withdrawal Committee meets at least weekly, on Sunday nights at 6 p.m. in the Andover Public Library.
The final say on whether Andover will establish its own school system will be decided by Andover residents at an election to be held once negotiations are complete. That vote could come in the spring, Merrow said.