SAD 44 negotiations committee appointed

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BETHEL — A committee appointed by SAD 44 Chairwoman Lainey Cross to oversee negotiations with the Andover Withdrawal Committee will meet at 3 p.m. on Jan. 23 in the superintendent’s office to discuss its rights and duties.

Superintendent David Murphy said Cross appointed board members Marcel Polak, Richard Melville, Stacey Sandvoss, Timothy Carter and Roberta Taylor. Cross will also serve on the committee.

The district’s legal counsel, William Stockmeyer of the firm of Drummond Woodsum, will meet with the committee to provide the necessary information for the negotiations process.

Following Wednesday’s meeting, a draft of a proposed SAD 44 withdrawal agreement will be delivered to the Andover Withdrawal Committee’s lawyer, Daniel Stockford of the firm of Brann and Issacson.

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Murphy said, via email, that the district’s agreement will be made available to the public soon after.

At its Jan. 14 meeting, the board heard a presentation by Stockmeyer of some of the issues negotiations must consider, including Andover’s share of building debt, tuition rates for Andover students in Grades 6-12 to include debts, a 10-year exclusive tuition arrangement for Grades 6-12 and numerous other requirements.

The Andover Withdrawal Committee was formed last year following a vote by the town’s residents to pursue leaving the district.

Two years ago, the SAD 44 board voted to close the century-old Andover Elementary School because of its declining enrollment and cost of operations. The school currently has an enrollment of about 30 students.

However, the town agreed to pay an additional $214,000, on top of its share of SAD 44 operating costs of about $400,000, to keep it open. For the current school year, the town paid an additional $68,000 to keep it open.

Susan Merrow, chairwoman of the Andover Withdrawal Committee and a selectman for the town, has said that maintaining the school was critical to the economic and social health of the town. The committee is working to ensure that Andover elementary students will receive a high-quality education.

SAD 44 comprises Andover, Bethel, Newry, Greenwood and Woodstock.

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