NEWRY — It’s official: Newry voters decided Wednesday at the polls to continue the multi-step withdrawal process from School Administrative District 44.

The district also includes Andover, which voted Wednesday to leave SAD 44. Other towns in the district are Bethel, Greenwood and Woodstock.

Voters were asked whether they wanted to authorize the town’s Withdrawal Committee to appropriate $50,000 from Newry’s surplus account to investigate withdrawal options.

It was approved, 82-60, Administrator Loretta Powers said late Wednesday night.

That means Powers must now notify SAD 44 Superintendent David Murphy and the state commissioner of education in writing that voters approved the petition to start the withdrawal process and explain why the town wants to leave the district.

The commissioner will then direct Newry selectmen to appoint a Withdrawal Committee to create a withdrawal agreement. The four-member committee must be comprised of one municipal officer, one member of the general public, one member of the petitioning group and one member of the SAD 44 Board of Directors, which represents Newry.

Step 7 of the process states that the SAD 44 board chairman must convene a meeting of the Withdrawal Committee within 30 days from the date that Powers filed the notice with the district and preside over the meeting until the committee chooses a chairman.

Newry’s withdrawal process began after resident Jim Sysko circulated a petition, citing the large amount of money that Newry currently pays to SAD 44 and the quality of education that their students receive.

The town of Newry is still in the early stages of possible withdrawal from SAD 44. At a recent public hearing, Selectman Brooks Morton said that out of 22 steps, they were on “Step 3.”

Newry residents are currently paying between $2.8 million and $2.9 million to SAD 44, Sysko said.

This is the town’s second attempt to withdraw from the district. The first unsuccessful effort happened in the early 1990s.

By 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, 62 residents had cast their votes, Powers said. There were also 22 absentee ballots. She said she anticipated a large turnout.

Newry has 276 registered voters.

“We had a line at one point — four or five; that’s a line for us,” Powers said.

Polls were open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In other business, selectmen will hold their regular meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7. That will be followed at 7 p.m. by a public hearing on the preliminary design for the Letter S road project.

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