DIXFIELD – The center of a possible new school district may move to Dixfield from Rumford if plans to unite SADs 43, 21 and 39 succeed.

A first meeting of school board, municipal and resident members is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Dirigo High School.

This is the first time SAD 39’s representatives, chosen a couple of months ago, will have a chance to meet with prospective partners.

“We were frustrated,” said SAD 39 Superintendent Rick Colpitts. “We’re finally getting to the table to see if there’s a good fit.”

He said his school board had met with SAD 52, Turner and SAD 17, Norway/Paris, to try to work out a deal. They were unsuccessful.

Now, with an invitation from SAD 43, Rumford, and SAD 21, Dixfield, SAD 39 has a chance to be included in an educational partnership as dictated by state law. The three merged districts would have about 3,000 students.

Previously, SADs 43 and 21 had met with SAD 44, Bethel, and Union 37, Rangeley, to discuss a possible merger. But because of geography, among other things, SADs 21 and 43 decided to try a new partnership.

Municipal, school board and resident representatives have already been chosen from SADs 43 and 21.

The three superintendents – Colpitts, Jim Hodgkin from SAD 43 and Tom Ward from SAD 21 will facilitate the meetings.

Colpitts said SAD 39 was having difficulty finding a partner despite its excellent educational program because of its low property valuation. SAD 21 has a similar problem that could result in higher school taxes paid by districts who partner with it.

But the difficulties may be adjusted during the next legislative session.

The first Reorganizational Planning Committee meeting will serve as a time to get to know each other, identify the tasks ahead, possibly name subcommittees and come to some sort of consensus, Colpitts said.

“There may be some obstacles. It may work out wonderfully. But it’s great to finally get to the table and talk,” he said.

A regular series of meetings will continue until a reorganization plan has been developed by the committee. District voters will have final say on a plan in June or November.


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