The other plans

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In addition to Gov. John Baldacci’s budget plan to reduce the number of school units across Maine, other consolidation proposals are before legislators. The Legislature’s Revisor’s Office has counted seven so far, plus Baldacci’s plan.

All will be heard at a daylong hearing Feb. 5 at the Augusta Civic Center before the Education Committee. Here are highlights of some of the consolidation bills and who’s behind them:

Who: The state Board of Education; sponsor is Sen. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston

In brief: Create 60 to 65 school districts statewide; a blue-ribbon commission would draw district lines

Mandatory consolidation? Yes

Savings: $82.1 million over five years



Who:
Sen. Peter Mills, R-Somerset

In brief: “It’s not well-thought out. The governor stole my thunder,” Mills said. No specific number of school districts; that would be determined later.

Mandatory consolidation? No; there’d be inducements for districts to merge.

Savings: No number available.

Who: A coalition of the Maine Municipal Association, Maine Education Association, Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Maine Hospital Association Coalition; sponsor is Sen. Beth Edmunds, D-Freeport

In brief: No specific number of districts; 26 school alliances across Maine would plan consolidations

Mandatory consolidation? Yes; there’d be a 10 percent consolidation by 2010

Savings: About $25 million

Who: The Maine Childrens Alliance; sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Mitchell, D-Kennebec

In brief: No specific number of districts; planning alliances would be set up across the same 26 regions of Maine that Baldacci is proposing districts. Those alliances would come up with the number of districts and how the lines should be drawn.

Mandatory consolidation? No.

Savings: No number available.

Who: Sen. Karl Turner, R-Cumberland

In brief: Number of school districts would be no greater than 75. District lines would be drawn by expert, 11-member committee. Consideration would be given to how district lines would be drawn: Districts would be smaller than the governor’s plan, averaging 2,200 students. Like-minded communities in close proximity would go together. For instance, Turner said, “Cape Elizabeth places a great value on K-12 education and is willing to spend money. That attitude does not prevail across the state.”

Mandatory consolidation? Yes, by July 1, 2008.

Savings: About $25 million

Note: Other statewide school consolidation legislation is expected from freshmen Sen. Peter Bowman, D-York, and Rep. Kimberly Silsby, D-Augusta.

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