FAYETTE – The AOS 97 Board of Directors has given its approval to a withdrawal plan for the Fayette Central School put together by a subcommittee in a series of meetings.

By a 5-1 vote at its Jan. 22 meeting, the AOS 97 board gave the go-ahead for the Fayette School Committee to proceed with the withdrawal plan. It has been sent to the Maine Department of Education Office for Education Commissioner Jim Rier’s approval to go forward with developing the plan.

One of the member of the withdrawal subcommittee, Jon Beekman, said that he was pleased with the work that the committee had done in its four meetings starting in early December. In a Nov. 5th vote, Fayette citizens overwhelmingly gave their approval for the formation of the subcommittee to develop the withdrawal plan.

“It’s a great cross-section of the community,” said Beekman of the subcommittee. “It’s productive. There’s a lot of different opinions.”

The subcommittee will be having public sessions with Fayette residents and will have meetings with teachers and support staff at the Fayette Central School in order to formulate the plan’s specifics. A presentation will be made to the Board of Selectmen, and the subcommittee will also meet with the Fayette School Committee and the Fayette School and Home Association. A public hearing is set to take place sometime in March, and residents will vote by referendum in April.

“Obviously, the overwhelming vote we had in the fall to go ahead with the withdrawal plan was key,” said Beekman. “Fayette functioned very well as an independent school.”


In 1994, Fayette citizens voted to leave SAD 36 and operate as a standalone school with their own superintendent and school committee. Gov. John Baldacci presented a school consolidation proposal in 2007 that required school districts to consolidate to save on administrative costs, or face a fine and a loss of educational subsidy.

Fayette residents voted against joining an RSU with Maranacook school system towns, including Mt. Vernon, Readfield, Wayne, and Manchester, in 2009. They did so mostly because it meant a loss of local control for the town over its school.

Then, in November of 2009, Fayette administrators began and led a state-wide initiative to delay penalties for non-compliant schools that rejected or failed to comply with the State of Maine School Consolidation Law and successfully protected the town from a $40,000 state penalty. Following the delay of the penalty, Fayette administrators led a statewide initiative to change the Alternate School Organization law (AOS). This effort successfully protected the Town from another $40,000 penalty and subsequent reoccurring financial penalties.

After the state legislature’s approval of the AOS law change, the town’s officials engaged Winthrop and together the two communities formed AOS 97, or the Western Kennebec School Alternate Organizational Structure. It was done to avoid penalties for not consolidating and allowed the two school systems to work independently and autonomously.

In 2011, the Maine Legislature voted to eliminate the penalties to go into effect for fiscal year 2012-13 and subsequent years.

Residents supporting the withdrawal, and the withdrawal subcommittee as well, have noted that the demands of the superintendent’s job and power of whomever sits in the seat will be favored toward the school system paying the most in salaries and bills. Right now, Fayette pays 15 percent of the superintendent’s salary and Winthrop 85 percent.

They have also pointed out that Fayette needs someone that can bring funding to sustain Fayette Central School and be creative about engaging staff and community in the process. An emphasis has been put on the need to regain local control of the school system.

Additionally, withdrawal supporters have said that the long term sustainability of Fayette is more in line with its own superintendent model than any partnership. Because of weighted votes (156 for Fayette versus 844 for Winthrop), Fayette has very limited increases over cost increases of the AOS central office budget. They have also emphasized that the school’s Grade “A” rating from the Maine Department of Education came under the independent school structure before the AOS.

“The A-rated school and the outstanding work that the teachers and Principal Nancy Godfrey have done shows we can function on our own,” said Beekman.

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