BUCKFIELD — The Buckfield Withdrawal Committee elected former Town Manager Glen Holmes as chairman Thursday night.

Holmes is director of the Western Maine Economic Development Council.

Judith Berg was elected vice chairwoman.

The committee voted to accept video recording as the official minutes of each meeting. Berg noted that recordings of each meeting will be available to residents and can be picked up at the Municipal Center.

Other members present were Selectman Cheryl Coffman and RSU 10 board member Jerald Wiley.

Bruce Ross of Dixfield, vice chairman of the RSU 10 board, opened the meeting.

After being elected chairman, Holmes set the ground rules for the meetings, saying that the first role of the committee was to gather information to determine if the town should withdraw from RSU 10, and, if so, to create a plan for withdrawal. The committee members decided residents should present their written comments to the committee for discussion.

Holmes expressed his opinion that a qualified independent consultant should be hired to compile and evaluate data to see if the town should be in RSU 10, which was formed in 2009 by combining SAD 39 in Buckfield, SAD 21 in Dixfield and SAD 43 in Rumford. The Regional School Unit also includes the towns of Canton, Carthage, Peru, Hartford, Sumner, Byron, Mexico, Roxbury and Hanover.

Berg said the committee could gather that information.

Holmes said he didn’t feel qualified to ask the right questions. He said they need to look at what the town has now in RSU 10 and what the town is paying for education.

Coffman agreed there were a lot of unknowns that needed to be explored.

RSU 10 Superintendent Craig King told the committee that his office would gather any information the committee requested and provide printed copies.

Ross told the group he could provide any information they might need if they chose to stay in RSU 10, but cautioned the group to do their research and go with facts, not hearsay.

Holmes charged the committee with getting input from two towns that left their RSU and two that stayed. He advised leaving Dixfield out of that information gathering because that town’s main concern was the closing of their school.

The committee will hold public hearings and voted to hold meetings at 7 p.m. the first and third Wednesdays of each month.

Berg moved to apply for a 180-day waiver until they can find out what Sumner and Hartford, former SAD 39 towns with Buckfield, plan to do. Under existing guidelines from the Department of Education, the committee must finish its work within 90 days.

Holmes said they might be better off going alone. Wiley wanted to go ahead, but the vote was to apply for the waiver.


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