MEXICO – Residents of northern Oxford County and all of Western Maine will have a chance to learn about the governor’s plan to reduce the number of school administrative districts at a forum Thursday. It begins at 7 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium of Mountain Valley Middle School.

Department of Education Commissioner Susan Gendron will explain the thinking behind consolidating 152 districts into 26 statewide and hear reactions from people.

State Rep. Randy Hotham, R-Dixfield, arranged the forum because of the number of questions he has received from constituents, he said in a statement.

The plan is included in the governor’s budget for 2008-2009. It must first be approved by the Legislature.

SAD 43 Superintendent Jim Hodgkin believes that regardless of how many districts there could be, SAD 43 in Rumford, SAD 44 in Bethel and SAD 21 in Dixfield will be consolidated, resulting in a school region with 3,600 students.

He said he has notified school districts from Lisbon to Mt. Abram, and all selectmen in the district’s four towns of the local presentation by Gendron.

“The governor said he was doing these sessions around the state to get feedback from people. This is a great opportunity for people from this area to have an audience with Susan Gendron and to let her and the governor know how they feel about the proposal,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

Although Hodgkin believes some kind of consolidation is necessary, he questions the one- to three-year timeline to put the plan into action.

“That’s just not realistic. It took two years for Peru to merge with SAD 21 and five years for SAD 43 and Rumford to merge,” he said.

What: Public forum on governor’s proposal for school consolidation

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1

Where: Mountain Valley Middle School auditorium