FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors voted Feb. 9 to accept recommendations from an advisory committee overseeing the Thomas F. Dyer Trust.

The panel is made up of New Sharon Selectman Travis Pond, RSU 9 Director Jennifer Pooler of New Sharon and RSU 9 Superintendent Tom Ward. They had worked together for the past year with New Sharon Treasurer Bonnie Lehigh.

They had an audit firm review the trust fund to determine how much money was in it. 

The principal is believed to be about $300,000, Ward said. The annual interest proceeds available will depend on the economy, he said.

The trust fund is held with U.S. Trust (Bank of America), which issues quarterly interest distributions payable to the town of New Sharon and are supposed to be disbursed as outlined in a 1986 court order.

Many records were not available to the committee because of the closing of banks involved in the original trust.

The 1986 court order had required that an advisory committee be created to oversee the trust. It was to be made up of a New Sharon selectman, a New Sharon school director and the RSU 9 superintendent.

According to Lehigh’s letter to Ward in January, advisory committee meetings with all in attendance appear not to have taken place in 29 years. The split of annual interest proceeds for educational purposes had also not occurred.

New Sharon town officials had handled the trust over the years, Pooler said.

One of the trust committee’s recommendations to the RSU 9 school board on Feb. 9 was to use $16,673.16 from RSU 9’s program share of the trust to offset a deficit in the scholarship portion.

The district had $41,561.36 in program funding. The other recommendation was for the remainder of the district’s $24,888.20 to be used for enrichment programs at the Cape Cod Hill Elementary School in New Sharon.

Dyer, who was born in New Sharon in 1833, had a provision added to his will that created the trust when he died in 1922. Dyer’s intent was to benefit the advancement of education, good citizenship and morality in New Sharon High School. The school closed in 1966 when the town joined Maine School Administrative District 9, now known as RSU 9.

The trust also issues $250 annually to New Sharon to care for cemetery lots that Dyer and family members are buried in.

The previous management instructions from the 1986 court order, the second of two judiciary reviews since the trust was created, had mandated that 75 percent of the annual interest income from the trust would provide scholarships for graduating seniors pursuing post-secondary education at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington in RSU 9. Preference was to be given to New Sharon residents. Twenty-five percent was to provide programs for Mt. Blue High School.

A full report on the Dyer Trust will appear in the annual New Sharon Town Report for 2015, Pooler said.

The audit recently revealed that the scholarship portion was over-expended, she said.

According to Lehigh’s letter, $5,673.16 is overdrafted in the scholarship account as of Dec. 31, 2015. She also noted that an additional $11,000 in scholarships have been awarded to 2015 graduates due to be paid in 2016. The scholarships were issued in 2015 without clear knowledge of what the true trust account balance was, due to the manner in which the trust proceeds were previously managed, she wrote. The potential deficit could be as high $16,673.16, she wrote.

Ward said he believed that RSU 9 had not touched its portion of the fund because of controversy surrounding the trust decades ago.

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