SAD 44 responds to Andover withdrawal plan

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BETHEL — The SAD 44 board reviewed a two-page summary of a draft response to the Andover Withdrawal Committee when they met Monday night.

According to the response drafted by SAD 44’s lawyer Bill Stockmeyer, the district differs with the AWC on several points, such as who pays for the costs of special education, a refund of the 2012-13 state subsidy to Andover and the effective date of withdrawal if Andover residents agree to the move.

The AWC has received a 90-day extension from the state to continue working on its withdrawal plan and to negotiate with SAD 44, Superintendent David Murphy said in an email.

Susan Merrow, chairwoman of the AWC and Andover selectman, emailed that, “We are appreciative of the response from SAD 44. The Andover Withdrawal Committee is currently comparing the documents and we look forward to negotiations. It is important that Andover is able to improve the quality of education for our families and offer a stable future for our community to thrive.”

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She further said that going “on our own” provides the town with a unique opportunity to be a leader in rural education innovation.

“The challenge of rural education is a hot topic globally and throughout rural America,” she said.

Andover residents voted overwhelmingly to pursue leaving the district more than a year ago. Since then, they have organized a committee to look into all aspects of such a move.

This action was prompted by SAD 44’s vote to close the school two years ago. The town then voted to provide an additional $214,000 to the district to keep the school open. The town then granted $68,000 more than the district assessment for school year 2012-13 to keep it operating.

On Monday the SAD 44 board also learned that work on a $2.3 million conservation and air quality project at the Telstar Middle and High School complex began last week.

Murphy said a crew from Honeywell International Inc. began running wires and conducting other work after classes end for the day at the Telstar complex. When the project is completed, which is expected by the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, air quality will be greatly improved and the energy efficiency of the complex should be increased.

The funds come from a district reserve and from a no- or low-interest bond through the Quality School Construction program.

In other matters, the board voted 13-1 to grant an additional year to Murphy’s contract, bringing it to July 1, 2014. Andover board member Tim Akers was the sole dissenting vote.

Also on Monday, the board:

* Set a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 4 in the Telstar library to conduct student disciplinary hearings.

* Changed the March 21 workshop day to March 18 so that SAD 44 teachers and staff may attend a workshop with Region 9 School of Applied Technology and RSU 10 on mass customized learning.

* Learned of the resignation of Title I educational technician Heather Hayward.

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