RUMFORD – A new regional planning panel may meet before Christmas to begin putting together a school consolidation plan for SADs 43, 21 and 39.

SAD 43 Superintendent Jim Hodgkin said Thursday that SAD 39 directors approved work toward a joint partnership with SADs 43 and 21 at their Wednesday meeting. SAD 39 Superintendent Rick Colpitts could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The boards of SADs 43 and 21 already approved the joint venture.

A meeting of all regional planning group representatives is needed to restart the state-mandated consolidation of school districts. A few weeks ago, SAD 39 was not included, and instead representatives from SADs 21 and 43 had been meeting with representatives from SAD 44 and Union 37.

Hodgkin said the new configuration was chosen and a letter of intent submitted to the state because of the geography of the three districts and a chance for a more efficient governing structure of a new super school board.

With the previous planned consolidation group, nearly 40 people would have sat on a new school board. With the newly planned partnership, that figure would drop to fewer than 20.

He said that first planning meeting may take place as early as next Wednesday or Thursday.

The discussion took place at SAD 43’s regular, twice-monthly board meeting held Tuesday.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, school health coordinator Kathy Sutton reported on the use of more than $300,000 in sports equipment by students in physical education classes in SADs 43 and 21. The districts shared in the federal grant that secured the money. Sutton said she’s about to apply for the next round of grants.

The board also met in closed session for about an hour to conduct its annual evaluation of Hodgkin. He said a new salary and contract will likely be acted on at the Dec. 17 school board meeting.

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