Voters in Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls voted Tuesday by an unofficial  tally of 1,302 to 419 to pass a plan to merge the Jay School Department and RSU 36.

Jay voters overwhelmingly approved the plan, 710-185, Town Clerk Ronda Palmer said. Residents in Livermore Falls passed the plan 331-101, Town Manager Kristal Flagg said. Livermore approved the plan 261-133, Town Clerk Renda Libby said.

Both Jay Superintendent Bob Wall and RSU 36 Superintendent Sue Pratt credited the work that went into creating the plan with getting it passed.

A 13-member Reorganization Planning Committee and more than 90 members of the three communities worked six months to develop the plan to merge.

RSU 36 directors will meet at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, to tour the Livermore Falls Middle School. The board will then meet at 6 p.m. at Central Office to certify the votes and decide whether to start the process to close the middle school.

Wall said the next step for Jay is to get an official total from the town office to send to Augusta. After RSU 36 certifies the votes of its two towns, they will send the results to the state Board of Education to be certified.

After that, the two school boards will have a joint meeting to put the next steps in process.

The vote will allow the joint school system to enhance the education offerings to students, Wall said.

“We thank the people for their support in the recognition of that goal,” he said.

School officials have said that the plan would not only improve student opportunities but do it at a cost taxpayers can afford.

“It was overwhelming for me to hear the results, so I am very pleased with the outcome and it shows the commitment that was put into developing the plan,” Pratt said, after school board Chairman Ashley O’Brien told her the results. “I think it speaks very highly of all the work that went into the plan.”

Consolidating the two systems will save nearly $400,000 in state penalties that won’t be deducted from state education funding. If the two systems continued not to comply with state law they would lose the penalty money and receive $500,000-plus less in revenue.

The vote was the second one taken in two years. The first plan was rejected by voters in all three towns in January 2009.

The next steps will include establishing a transition team and holding a vote to elect a 13-member school board to oversee the new system.

The board will have six from Jay, three from Livermore and four from Livermore Falls. Once elected, they will draw for the length of terms, which will be staggered.

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