RUMFORD – When area school districts complete their consolidation during the next year or two, SAD 43 Superintendent Jim Hodgkin won’t be among the applicants to head the expected superdistrict.

During Monday’s SAD 43 board meeting, final discussions were held on Wednesday’s first meeting of the four districts that are exploring an administrative consolidation.

Representatives from the SAD 43 board and from the towns that make up the district were nailed down, then Hodgkin said moving farther away from day-to-day contact with students and teachers was not what he wanted.

“I’m a people person. I’ve missed the daily contact since I’m not in the schools as much. I’m not interested in being the superintendent of a superdistrict,” he said.

The superintendents of neighboring SAD 21 in Dixfield, and SAD 44 in Bethel, are, he said. The fourth district that is meeting with the three core districts from the River Valley area is Union 37 in Rangeley.

That meeting is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, in Room 302 of Mountain Valley High School. This will be an organizational meeting, Hodgkin said, and is open to the public.

Board Chairwoman Linda Westleigh will represent Rumford, and Mexico SAD 43 member Betty Barrett will represent her town for the district. Each of these towns have also chosen municipal and resident representatives.

Neither Byron nor Roxbury have school board representation on the regional planning committee, although Roxbury has two members from the town or general population.

A preliminary regional plan from the committee must be submitted to the Department of Education by Dec. 1. The department then has until Dec. 15 to act on the proposal. The local RPC would then have 30 days to work out a definitive plan for consolidation, although Hodgkin said legislation may be enacted to allow 60 days.

Other parts of the state law for district consolidation may also change, said Hodgkin, such as modifying the cost sharing formula so that it would help some neighboring districts consolidate without being penalized by higher school taxes. Other things could change drastically if a petition drive by some in the state is successful to put the consolidation act out to referendum.

Barrett said the petitioners plan to have such petitions at many of the polls during Tuesday’s election.

Hodgkin said he wasn’t opposed to consolidation, but favored the original intent of the state legislation that would merge central offices, rather than other aspects of individual districts.

He believes about one-third of the office staff now serving in the districts considering consolidation could be eliminated.

Once the local committee comes up with a preliminary plan, or progress report, individual boards will have a chance to look at it, but not change what the committee recommends, Hodgkin said.


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