BETHEL – SAD 44’s reorganization plan is in the lap of the state Department of Education.

Superintendent David Murphy said his board submitted an alternative plan with no educational partner to the state department by the Dec. 1 deadline.

“We’re seeking guidance from the state,” he said Monday afternoon.

He said his district has shown due diligence in trying to find a partner by exploring a possible partnership with neighboring districts in Rumford, Dixfield, Rangeley, Norway/Paris and Fryeburg. For one reason or another, none were suitable.

SAD 44 had originally begun planning an administrative reorganization with SADs 43, 21 and Union 37, but last week, SAD 43 announced that it will aim for a partnership with SADs 21 and 39 in Buckfield, leaving Bethel and Union 37 in Rangeley without partners.

Murphy said his district is not considering a partnership with Union 37 because the combined student population would not reach the 1,200 student minimum required by the state. Also, Murphy said the distance between the two school units is too great.

“We’re hoping for more clarification of the state law during the upcoming legislative session,” Murphy said.

The commissioner has agreed to submit legislation that would address the school tax formula that would cause higher taxes for some districts that combine with other districts.

Murphy is also waiting for the results of a state Educational Committee hearing scheduled for next week that will hear some of the proposals that would amend the original consolidation law.

The commissioner has until Dec. 15 to review all consolidation submissions.

“She’ll get back in touch with the districts short of 1,200 or 2,500 students,” Murphy said.

David Connerty-Marin, spokesman for the DOE, said the department will likely take a look at the districts surrounding SAD 44, as well as at their plans.

“The commissioner needs to see the entire landscape (of an area) before giving direction,” he said of SAD 44’s wait for advice from the state.

He said virtually all of the state’s districts have complied with the law by the Dec. 1 deadline.

Reconfigurations are coming together for most districts, with SAD 44 among those for which a partnership has not been found, Connerty-Marin said.


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