BETHEL — Some officials and residents of School Administrative District 44 hope a proposed cost-sharing formula that is more favorable to Newry will encourage those residents to remain in the district, rather than continue their withdrawal process.
Residents of Bethel, Greenwood, Newry and Woodstock considered the proposal at a public hearing Wednesday, including lengthening the time the formula would be phased in, from eight years to nine years.
Assessments to the towns are based 100 percent on valuation, leaving Newry with the highest share, at about $3 million of the roughly $8.4 million total.
District voters will decide on the proposal at a referendum Nov. 6.
For the first two years, assessments would be based 95 percent on valuation and 5 percent on enrollment. For the three years after that, assessments would be based 90 percent on valuation and 10 percent on enrollment. And, three years after that, assessments would be based 88 percent on valuation and 12 percent on enrollment, with the final phase in 2028 at 85 percent valuation and 15 percent enrollment.
If the change is approved, implementation would be contingent on Newry residents voting to end their attempts to withdraw. The vote on whether to terminate withdrawal would be in March 2019.
At Wednesday’s hearing, SAD 44 attorney Bill Stockmeyer presented the cost-sharing amendment, outlining the purpose and impact the proposed formula could have.
He said if Newry residents vote to withdraw from SAD 44, there would likely be a $2 million tax shift to Bethel and Woodstock.
A withdrawal could also threaten the existence of the school district, some officials have said.
“If we were to lose $2 million we would see some significant changes to the district, if the district were able to continue,” Superintendent Dave Murphy said.
If the referendum passes and Newry votes to terminate withdrawal, Bethel and Woodstock would have a 1 percent tax increase per year over the nine years, according to Stockmeyer, because some of Newry’s share would shift to those towns.
Greenwood would see little impact because its valuation of 12.5 percent is nearly identical to its share of students who attend SAD 44 schools, 12.43 percent.