More than a year’s work by at least 20 representatives from 12 towns paid off Tuesday when voters of three school systems and the town of Hanover agreed to merge into the Western Foothills School District.

Unofficial figures show that:

• SAD 21 towns of Canton, Carthage, Dixfield and Peru voted 1,860-1,201;

• SAD 39 towns of Buckfield, Hartford and Sumner voted 1,324-891; and

• SAD 43 towns of Byron, Mexico, Roxbury and Rumford voted 3,212-1,596.

• Hanover voted 117-60.

“I’m very pleased,” SAD 21 Superintendent Tom Ward said, “particularly since every community approved it and the totals were sizeable. This says a great deal about the people in this region and the commitment to education.”

Ward, along with SAD 43 Superintendent Jim Hodgkin and SAD 39 Superintendent Rick Colpitts were meeting Wednesday afternoon in Dixfield to plan the next steps. One of those steps is a special meeting of the four school boards for 6 p.m. Nov. 17 at Dirigo High School in Dixfield. The primary duty of the joint meeting is to elect a secretary who will call for a special election to select a new district school board. The secretary will be one of the three superintendents.

Colpitts said he was pleased his district voted for the administrative merger.

“Our energies have been focused on creating a good plan,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “Given the state of the economy, this is the only way to save the future.”

SAD 39 will continue to send its vocational students to nearby Oxford Hills Technical School in Paris. SAD 21 and SAD 43 vocational students attend River Valley Technology Center in Mexico.

Hodgkin, too, was pleased that voters passed the plan. He was also surprised by the margin the town of Mexico approved the plan, 948-503, particularly since the selectmen came out against it.

Each of the three districts’ school boards will continue to meet according to their normal schedule until the new school region goes into effect July 1, 2009.

The SAD 43 and SAD 39 boards were meeting separately Wednesday night to certify the results of the vote. The SAD 21 board will do the same Monday, Nov. 10.

The move to consolidate was mandated by state law to reduce costs and improve education.

Every community passed the measure as follows:

SAD 21

Canton – 337-217

Carthage – 151-136

Dixfield – 796-506

Peru – 578-342

SAD 39:

Buckfield – 652-423

Hartford – 390-243

Sumner – 282-225

SAD 43:

Byron – 45-36 no

Mexico – 948-503

Roxbury – 149-95

Rumford – 2,070-962

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