DIXFIELD – SAD 21 directors are getting ready to mark the end of an era spanning nearly 40 years.

Superintendent Thomas Ward said after the regular board meeting Monday night that a celebration to thank all board members who served since SAD 21’s formation will likely take place at the final meeting on June 8.

SAD 21, like scores of other school administrative districts throughout Maine, was formed following the adoption of the Sinclair Act. Towns that had had their own high schools and individual schools merged with neighboring towns to address a growing number of children. Most SADs were formed between 1960 and 1970.

When SAD 21 was formed, it was made up of Dixfield, Canton and Carthage. In 2004, neighboring Peru joined.

Ward, who is the new superintendent of Regional School Unit 10 – the Western Foothills School District – as well as of SAD 21, said SAD 21 Chairman Ben McCollister and Vice-Chairwoman Barbara Chow want to honor past board members.

“This isn’t the end, but a last get together to say thank you,” Ward said of the June celebration.

Once the merger of SADs 21, 39 and 43 is complete on July 1, Ward said schools will be referred to individually rather than by district.

Ward and SAD 21 directors who now are elected representatives on the RSU board have been working on a budget that would serve all three districts, restructuring a joint central office, and working out other merger-related matters.

Ward said that process continues on Tuesday when the 17-member RSU board meets at Dirigo Middle School.

He said a time line for the development of the first RSU 10 budget will be presented at that meeting, then a tentative starting point budget at the March 24 meeting. He said the superintendents and business managers of the existing three districts will meet next week to work on the proposal.

Ward said preliminary numbers show the savings will be at least as much as was projected when the proposal to merge the districts was made. That is at least $300,000, he said.

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