BETHEL — SAD 44 Superintendent David Murphy said Friday that he is unsure what financial effect Andover’s withdrawal from the district would have on its other four towns.

Andover residents voted 298-103 Wednesday to leave SAD 44. The first vote in January fell eight votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage.

“I’m sure there’ll be some changes once we really start to look at it, but from a population point of view, there won’t be a big change,” Murphy said. “However, looking at it from an infrastructure point of view, it’s more difficult to say what sort of changes we’ll have to make.”

Newry residents voted Wednesday to continue their withdrawal effort, allowing the Withdrawal Committee to appropriate $50,000 to investigate options.

“If Newry were to withdraw from the district, then we’d probably be looking at some major changes,” Murphy said. “However, they’re still in their early stages, so they’ll be looking at whether it’s the right choice for them, and we’ll be helping them however we can.”

The other towns in SAD 44 are Bethel, Greenwood and Woodstock.


Murphy said he was disappointed to see Andover leave the district, but was “hopeful that some of the students from grades six through 12 will come back to us.”

“I’ve had a long-term relationship with the town of Andover,” he said. “I’ve been working with them for 31 years, so as much as I hate to see them go, I really hope everything works out for them as planned.”

The withdrawal process began in 2011, after the SAD 44 board voted to close Andover Elementary School, citing the extra expense to maintain the nearly 100-year-old building and declining student enrollment. There are about 35 students in kindergarten to grade five who attend classes in the former high school building.

Selectman Susan Merrow said earlier this year that rural towns die when they don’t have local schools, home values drop 25 percent, and there’s no new economic development. Towns that control their own schools, she said, control their own costs and can grow their economies.

Since 2011, Andover has paid SAD 44 $244,000 to keep Andover Elementary School open, on top of the town’s $450,000 annual assessment.

The SAD 44 budget for 2014-15 is $10.56 million. Newry’s part of the budget is the highest at $2.9 million; Bethel’s is second at $2.8 million.

Murphy said Newry’s attempts to withdraw were “a little different” than Andover, because of the funding formula the district uses.

“Right now, Newry’s budget share is based on their property values,” he said. “That puts a different twist on things, but since we’re still early in the process, I’m planning on seeing what happens first and figuring it out from there.”

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: