SUMNER — An information session Tuesday evening helped clarify some of the issues surrounding the town’s possible withdrawal from the RSU 10 school district but still left many unanswered questions.

Residents will go to the polls next week to decide if the town will pursue a withdrawal agreement with RSU 10. The question was put on the ballot by organizers who submitted a petition with 98 signatures to the Board of Selectmen in June.

About 30 citizens, withdrawal boosters from neighboring towns and representatives from the district attended Tuesday evening’s session.

Opinions on the withdrawal measure were mixed, with some voters firmly against the measure, others in favor, and many unsure what withdrawal would mean for the town.

If voters agree to pursue withdrawal, they will also authorize a withdrawal committee to expend up to $20,000 to negotiate an agreement with RSU 10. An eventual agreement must be approved by the state and finally approved by voters before it takes effect.

Several people, including former Selectman Dan Perron, voiced concern that Sumner would not be able to withdraw individually, and would need to look to Hartford and Buckfield for support.

The three towns were part of SAD 39, consolidated into RSU 10 four years ago. Buckfield voted to withdraw from the RSU in June but no withdrawal movement has emerged in Hartford.

Jeff Pfiefer, who, with others, organized the petition under the Save Our Schools organization this past spring, said he was in favor of moving forward with the process to gain more information about the benefits or drawbacks of leaving the district.

Ted Dawicki, who also organized the petition drive, said Sumner could maintain local control in a smaller district and avoid possible school closures.

The final cost of breaking away from the district will be determined in the negotiating process, RSU 10 Superintendent Craig King said. If all three towns left, however, the district would most likely return schools and other facilities, said RSU 10 board Chairman Jerry Wiley.

Buckfield Withdrawal Committee member Judy Berg told the assembly the town’s committee gained valuable financial data from RSU 10 and the Maine Department of Education as a result of beginning the withdrawal process.

Ingrid Eriksson said she was impressed with what was going on in RSU 10, but she saw no downside to voting to withdraw if it gave the town more information.

Others, including several current and former RSU 10 employees, were skeptical or firmly opposed to the proposal.

“We need to stay in the RSU and stop wasting people’s time,” said Cynthia Norton, a former teacher at Hartford-Sumner Elementary School.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the Municipal Complex.


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