DIXFIELD – The next step in the process to consolidate three neighboring school districts takes place at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17, in the community room of Dirigo High School.

Voters in SAD 39 in Buckfield, SAD 21 in Dixfield, SAD 43 in Rumford and the town of Hanover overwhelmingly approved the administrative consolidation Nov. 4. Each of the 12 towns approved the measure.

At Monday’s meeting of the four school boards, SAD 43 Superintendent Jim Hodgkin is expected to be chosen interim secretary-superintendent. He will not apply for the superintendency of the merged Western Foothills School District.

Only SAD 21 Superintendent Town Ward has said he will. Rick Colpitts, who serves as an assistant superintendent for SAD 17 in Oxford, is part-time superintendent for SAD 39. He said Monday night that he will not apply for the superintendency of the new district.

The Nov. 17 meeting will likely see the announcement of the availability of nomination papers for the 17 seats on the new school board.

Those interested may pick up nomination papers from their town offices or from one of the three districts’ central offices. Each town will set the number of signatures from registered voters required to have a name placed on the ballot.

Nomination papers must be returned to candidates’ town offices or central school offices by Dec. 1. Voting will take place at a date to be set at Monday’s meeting. It is expected to be in January.

Positions to be filled are:

• SAD 21, Canton, one two-year term; Carthage, one three-year term; Dixfield, one one-year term and one two-year term; Peru, one three-year term, for a total of five members.

• SAD 39, Buckfield, one one-year term and one two-year term; Hartford, one three-year term; Sumner, one one-year term, for a total of four members.

• SAD 43, Byron, one two-year term; Mexico, one three-year term and one one-year term; Roxbury, one two-year term; Rumford, one three-year term, one two-year term, and one one-year term, for a total of seven.

• Hanover, one three-year term.

These staggered terms will provide for all three-year terms in the future.

The three superintendents set Wednesday to meet with the 12 town clerks to discuss the number of signatures necessary to run for a seat on the new board, time frames, voting date, and other information needed to move the process along.

Also on Nov. 17, the three boards, chaired by SAD 21 board Chairman Ben McCollister, will act on a job description and set compensation for the interim secretary-superintendent, and take up any other business necessary to the consolidation process.

A 20-member Reorganizational Planning Committee from the three districts and Hanover have been meeting for more than a year to work out a plan for submission to the state’s Department of Education.

The new Western Foothills School District board will devise a job description, process and timeline for hiring a permanent superintendent.

State law mandated virtually all districts to find partners and work out a consolidation plan in an effort to save money and improve education.

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