AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine’s school system consolidation project — the subject of a repeal referendum this fall — is taking hold, according to Education Department officials.

The department said Wednesday 26 new school districts began operations July 1 as part of a statewide reorganization.

According to the department, the combined districts, which were previously 98 separate units, have more than 55,000 students — almost 30 percent of the state total.

Adding in 42 school systems with over 100,000 students that may have met requirements without merging, state officials say 85 percent of the state’s students are in complying school systems.

One hundred and twenty-seven school systems with 15 percent of the students in the state still face reorganization requirements.

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