BETHEL – SAD 44 has decided to try to go it alone.

Superintendent David Murphy said Tuesday that a letter has been sent to Department of Education Commissioner Susan Gendron requesting that the five-town district become what some call a doughnut hole.

That means, he said, that a district with fewer than 1,000 students would not be required under state law to partner with one or more other districts.

He said the letter asks for two things: To be permitted to stand alone, and to avoid penalties for not partnering with School Union 37 in Rangeley.

“We have complied in every way with the law and each town in our district voted for partnering with SAU 37,” he said.

State law holds that districts that do not partner are subject to a penalty. In SAD 44’s case, that penalty would be about $186,000.

During last month’s SAD 44-Union 37 merger vote, each Union 37 town and plantation rejected the measure.

Representatives from the two school districts met for months to try to hammer out a partnership to form a new regional school district.

If SAD 44 is granted permission to stand alone, it would be a district of about 900 students.

SAD 44’s quandary may be moot if people statewide vote to repeal the law that calls for merging school districts.

Maine election officials on Monday accepted a citizens’ petition calling for repeal of the law. The issue will join several others on November’s ballot if legislators decide not to repeal the law.

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