SUMNER — The RSU 10 School Board approved an agreement with the Dixfield Withdrawal Committee at its Monday meeting. The weighted vote was 9,568-7,640.

Voting against the agreement were Shawn White of Hartford, John Phillips of Sumner, Betty Barrett of Mexico, Frank DiConzo of Rumford and Tracey Higley of Rumford.

Voting for it were Ronnie Hutchinson of Carthage, Maida Demers-Dobson and Jerry Wiley, both of Buckfield, Faith Campbell of Canton, Bruce Ross and Barbara Chow, both of Dixfield, Denise Cross of Roxbury, Lolisa Windover of Peru and Peter Zanoni of Mexico.

Absent were Judy Boucher of Byron, Dan Force of Hanover and Marcia Chaisson of Rumford.

“This seems like a marriage gone awry. We need marriage counseling,” Zanoni said before the vote.

Barrett said she didn’t like the “wills” and “musts” in the agreement, or what she described as a lack of trust on the part of Dixfield.

“There’s a lot of animosity toward the Rumford-Mexico area,” she said.

Higley said there was no way he could support the agreement.

“We have a board that is represented with every player. We’re all here for the kids,” he said.

Some also objected to applying the same rules in the agreement to every town and each of the three regions in the district, Rumford-Mexico, Dixfield and Buckfield.

Superintendent Tom Ward said he believes all regions should be treated the same.

“I believe this agreement makes the RSU more secure,” he said.

Ross, who was the board representative on the Withdrawal Committee, said the withdrawal process started when a proposal was made last year to combine Mountain Valley and Dirigo high schools into one, and Mountain Valley and Dirigo middle schools into one.

“It took a group of people afraid of losing identity” to create the committee. “The biggest concern I had was I didn’t want the board to be blackmailed” by Dixfield withdrawing. “People in Dixfield were concerned” about losing their identity, he said.

Chow said state law dictated that Dirigo combine with other districts, which is why SADs 21, 43 and 39 were merged into RSU 10.

“I don’t think it was blackmail,” she said.

The agreement will go to voters for approval, likely on June 11.


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