BETHEL — The SAD 44 board will decide whether to accept an educational plan from the Andover Withdrawal Committee when they meet at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 30, at Telstar High School.

A committee from Andover has been working on an educational plan for the town’s 100 or so students since a majority of residents approved that action just over a year ago.

However, AWC Chairwoman Susan Merrow said a group of residents have devoted at least one additional year into researching a possible pull out from SAD 44. Residents approved spending up to $24,000 on costs associated with pursuing that study.

Merrow said some of the legal work was provided at no cost, while much of the consulting costs from former superintendents and at least one lawyer were paid.

During the past couple of years, the SAD 44 board voted to close the 30-pupil, K-5 school because of its small size and cost to the district. To prevent closure, residents voted to pay additional sums in addition to their regular school taxes, including $140,000 for the current school year.

“Both the AWC and SAD 44 negotiators have worked hard all year to come up with an agreement that is balanced for both parties,” Merrow said.


SAD 44 Superintendent David Murphy agreed.

“If the board approves the plan on Monday night, it will be the result of a lot of hard work on the part of the board’s subcommittee and the members of the AWC. Despite difficult negotiations, the two groups have been dedicated in their efforts and some solid progress has been made in recent months,” Murphy said in an email.

Merrow said she believes the two groups have come to some good terms for both sides.

Among them is an agreement that an Andover parent may send their child to any school, although most would likely tuition their children to SAD 44.

Murphy said the district would lose some funding if Andover ultimately leaves the district.

If approved on Monday, the document would then go to the state’s Department of Education for its approval or recommendations for improvement. If it is not approved by the board, negotiations will continue.


The AWC approved the plan at their weekly meeting on Sept. 22.

The DOE has 60 days to review the withdrawal plan, Merrow said.

Merrow, who is also an Andover selectman, said maintaining a school is critical to the town.

“Andover is at a crossroads of what the town will look like in the future. Losing local elementary education will greatly change the face of the town,” she said.

In a related matter, town officials and residents will have a chance at 6 p.m., Oct. 1, at the Town Hall to discuss steps needed to update Andover’s comprehensive plan with John Maloney of the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments.

If the withdrawal plan is approved by the state, residents must vote in a referendum to leave SAD 44. If all steps are approved, the town could start the next school year as its own district.

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