ANDOVER — Selectmen convened a 20-minute emergency meeting Thursday night to approve placing four articles on the March 18 ballot.

It was the last day mandated by law for the town clerk to prepare absentee ballots, Selectman Keith Farrington said of the reason for the meeting.

Andover’s town meeting is March 15. Elections and secret-ballot referendums are March 18 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the polls.

Farrington and Selectman Judy Tabb approved the articles, which include two on the Andover Elementary school, one for electing a selectman and a school director, and one on liquor sales.

Selectman Susan Merrow was absent.

The articles on Andover’s efforts to withdraw from SAD 44 drew a standing-room-only crowd at the Town Office.


Farrington explained that selectmen have the right to place articles on warrants and to take them off within two weeks if they choose to.

David Percival of the original Withdrawal Committee said their lawyer has reviewed SAD 44 board’s proposal and has advised those in favor of withdrawing to vote it down.

The proposal is laid out in Article 3 of the town warrant. It calls for Andover Elementary School to be turned over to the town and leased back to the district, keeping Andover in SAD 44. The district would provide routine maintenance and the town would be responsible for capital improvements.

Andover would also pay its annual assessment, which was about $400,000 last year, plus an additional $140,000 based on a school enrollment of about 30 students. If student numbers increase, the figure would be decreased, but if the numbers decline, the figure would be increased.

Percival and others didn’t like the proposal. He reminded Farrington what the committee’s lawyer said of the offer.

“He said it just weakens our position, increases the town of Andover’s risks and gives us nothing in return,” Percival said.


Farrington said that without voting to place the article on a warrant, no one could even discuss it.

“Between closing the school outright and withdrawal, they wanted to propose something else,” Farrington said of the SAD 44 board. “We haven’t had a lot of time to evaluate it.”

Farrington said the school board isn’t willing to go down two paths if a vote to withdraw succeeds. He said the school board would have to develop a package of information about its proposal for approval.

Resident Peter Coolidge said he feels like the school board is trying to rush something through before people understand the offer.

“When did SAD 44 tell Andover what it could do?” Percival asked. “I’m a little concerned on who’s driving the horse.”

Farrington said they don’t.


“We can vote no anytime we want,” he said.

Resident Dick Merrill chastised Farrington for wanting to schedule a vote on something that residents know nothing about.

Farrington said public hearings will be held in February to get the information out once it’s finalized.

When asked about the validity of the school board’s draft proposal, Farrington said, “It’s shaky at best.”

“My initial readings of this draft proposal, and I’m not really educated but I can read and count, this is heavily favored to the district, as it’s written right here, heavily,” Coolidge said.

“Lawyers better be looking at this,” Coolidge said. “I mean I’ve found all kinds of holes in it and I’m no Joe Bornstein, for sure. There’s just so much gray area.”


“It was kind of thrown out there as a proposal and nobody has wanted to spend 100 hours on it if it wasn’t going to go anywhere, so that’s really where we’re at,” Farrington said.

“If this is a foundation that we’re building from, it’s not much of a foundation,” Coolidge said.

“Buyer beware,” Farrington said.

ANDOVER — The four articles approved by selectmen Thursday for the March 18 ballot include two about the Andover Elementary School, one on liquor sales and one to elect a selectman and a school director.

The first article is to choose a selectman and a SAD 44 director for three-year terms. Selectman Judy Tabb said Selectman Susan Merrow’s term is up.


The second asks if voters favor filing a petition for withdrawal from SAD 44 with the Board of Directors of SAD 44 and with the Maine Commissioner of Education, and authorizing the Withdrawal Committee to spend $15,000. It also seeks to authorize selectmen to borrow an amount not to exceed $15,000 to withdraw.

The third article asks if voters want to authorize selectmen to accept the transfer of Andover Elementary School to the town and to lease it back to SAD 44 for not more than three years.

It further states that the lease shall provide for the district as tenant to agree to operate the school to educate Andover students and be responsible for the base level of operating school cost, including upkeep and maintenance. Andover as landlord would bear the costs of capital improvements and repairs and excess operating costs of the school. The lease would additionally be on such other terms as the committee appointed by selectmen will have approved in the interest of Andover.

The fourth article, which Selectman Keith Farrington said was submitted as a petition but has yet to have its signatures validated, asks if Andover will authorize the state to issue licenses for the sale of liquor to be consumed on the premises of licensed establishments on days other than Sunday.

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