OXFORD – SADs 39 and 17 officials will meet Thursday to begin preliminary discussion about extending cost-sharing collaborations.

SAD 17 Superintendent Mark Eastman told directors Monday night that SAD 39 officials have requested they meet with the SAD 17 Finance Committee about the potential impact of initiating an alternative organization structure under recently revised school consolidation legislation.

Eastman said he is reviewing what the alternative approach means, but that it is not a full school consolidation.

Last fall, SAD 17 directors asked that the district “stand alone” after a careful study of mergers with other systems, including SAD 39, indicated a nearly $1 million district cost increase would occur. Directors also believed that the financial penalty was too significant if voters rejected a merger. Since then, SAD 39 investigated reorganization with SAD 43 in the Rumford area and SAD 21 in the Dixfield, Peru area while various amendments bounced around the Legislature leaving local school officials in a quandary.

Eastman said at Thursday night’s meeting that SAD 39 officials are expected to give SAD 17 officials ideas about how a merger of some sort could provide opportunities financially and educationally for SAD 17.

Eastman said no vote will be taken; the meeting is simply to initiate discussion.

Because the original school consolidation mandate required that SAD 39 merge with another district, questions arose as to whether SAD 17 could continue cost-saving measures such as sharing superintendents, heating oil purchases, joint adult education, bus repairs and the technical school. Both SAD 17 and 39 officials have forged ahead with the measures, including continuing the sharing of SAD 39 Superintendent Rick Colpitts.

Monday night, directors took the final step to confirm their desire to continue sharing Colpitts by unanimously recommending his appointment for a two-year term as part-time assistant superintendent in SAD 17. The vote came on the recommendation of the Personnel Committee and after both boards had agreed to the plan earlier this year. He will serve three days in SAD 17 and two in SAD 39, where he oversees a 600-student district and staff in Buckfield, Sumner and Hartford

Colpitts, whose salary was set at $81,594 through June during the one-year test pilot period, will have a new contract written for the two-year period.

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