MEXICO – Sixteen of the 17 people needed for the newly created Western Foothills School District board were elected Thursday.

The 17th will likely be appointed by the Roxbury Board of Selectmen on Jan. 27.

The new district is comprised of SAD 21 in Dixfield, SAD 39 in Buckfield, SAD 43 in Rumford, and the unaffiliated town of Hanover.

SAD 43 Superintendent Jim Hodgkin, who is also the interim secretary for Regional School Unit 10, said the first meeting of the new board will likely be 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at Dirigo High School.

People running for most positions were unopposed. In Byron, write-in candidate Judy Boucher, who owns a local campground with her husband, Roger, narrowly defeated Chris Edmunds, whose name was on the ballot. The vote was 14-13 for the two-year term.

In Mexico, no one had returned nomination papers for a one-year term. SAD 43 representative Betty Barrett narrowly defeated former SAD 43 board member Randy Canwell 11-10, in a write-in competition.

In Roxbury, no one’s name appeared on the ballot for the two-year term. Write-in votes resulted in a 4-4 tie for SAD 43 representative Mark Henry and former Roxbury selectman and former SAD 43 board member Mark Touchette.

SAD 39 representative Maida Demers-Dobson held back a write-in challenge by fellow SAD 39 board member Nicholas DiMaio by a 32-13 vote.

Other members of the new board, many of whom also served on the Reorganizational Planning Committee or are members of the current school district boards, and term lengths are:

• SAD 21, Canton, two years, Cindy Bissell; Carthage, three years, Linda Berry; Dixfield, two years, Barbara Chow, and one year, Bruce Ross; Peru, three years, Jessica Hines.

• SAD 39, Buckfield, two years, Jerry Wiley; Hartford, three years, Armand Rowe; Sumner, one year, John Phillips.

• SAD 43, Mexico, three years, Peter Zanoni; Rumford, one year, Tracey Higley, two years, Jeff Sterling, and three years, Marcia Chaisson.

• Hanover, three years, Dan Force.

Hodgkin said the organizational meeting will include determining officers, frequency of meetings, deciding how to hire a new superintendent, and other matters.

The board must develop a budget for 2009-2010. Administrators and other central office people from the three districts have been meeting for several weeks to work out a new administrative structure.

Hodgkin said the new board has three options for hiring a superintendent: appoint SAD 21 Superintendent Tom Ward who has said he wants to fill the position; advertise within the three districts; or begin a search from outside the Western Foothills School District.

In a related matter, the regular SAD 43 board meeting set for Tuesday includes an agenda item proposing deeding over the current central office to the town of Mexico. Selectmen from Mexico have already voted to accept the building if offered.

A new central office to serve the entire district would be established in Dixfield.


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