KINGFIELD — Some residents at a public hearing on withdrawing from Regional School Unit 58 on Monday evening advocated a thoughtful consideration of the move.

Residents will vote July 16 at Webster Hall on whether to continue the 22-step process. The ballot question also asks whether voters will allow selectmen to spend up to $20,000 from surplus funds, if needed.

Felecia Pease, principal of Strong Elementary School, said residents “had been down this road before.” As a taxpayer and an employee of the school, she wanted to be sure she understood the financial commitment the town might have to make.

Since the district has seen the resignation of several teachers, administrators, support staff and Superintendent Erica Brouillet, she asked voters to understand the impact Kingfield’s withdrawal could have on the district towns of Avon, Phillips, Strong and Kingfield.

“What do we hope to come out of this?” she asked selectmen. “Are we exploring a charter school?”

She asked voters to give new Superintendent Susan Pratt a chance to work on those issues that have caused such turmoil before making a quick decision.

“I know we have lost some really, really talented people who have shared their gifts with all the children in SAD 58,” she said. “Now they are going on to share their gifts with other people.”

RSU 58 board Chairwoman Heather Moody emphasized that the July 16 vote is not a decision to leave the district.

“I think there are a lot of avenues that could be explored,” Moody said. “Are (we) happy with the way you have things, or do (we) want to explore?”

Brian Twitchell, a former math teacher at Mt. Abram High School, said although he is not in favor of leaving the district, he did want voters to send a clear message at the polls that they either supported or opposed the option to leave the district.

“Frankly, I would like to see the district stay intact,” he said.

He also generated laughter when he protested the designation of him being  a leader of the withdrawal movement.

“If you read the Waterville Sentinel this week, you may have found that somehow, I am a leading advocate for this,” Twitchell told the group. He is not, he said.

If voters approve further exploration of options, selectmen must appoint a committee to communicate with the Department of Education.

“This is not a vote to get out of the district,” Moody said.

Parent Monique Poulin, a high school principal in Skowhegan, asked if there was a way to share some of the information more simply.

“There is a lot of reading to try to understand this 22-step process,” she said. “I’ve read what’s written in the newspapers, but I think a lot of people just don’t understand all of this.”


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