NEWRY — Scott Cole and state Rep. Fran Head, both of Bethel, indicated to selectmen Tuesday evening that they will continue with efforts to halt Newry’s withdrawal from School Administrative District 44.

Jim Sysko of the Newry Withdrawal Committee made it clear Newry will not give up its effort.

If Newry leaves, Bethel, Greenwood and Woodstock would have to make up the $3 million Newry pays toward the $8 million annual school budget. The cost-sharing formula is based solely on property valuation.

Newry Selectmen invited Cole and Head to their meeting Tuesday to discuss the legislative bill that would prevent Newry from voting on or continuing with its withdrawal process.

The bill is at the Revisor’s Office.

Selectman Gary Wight asked those at the meeting to keep the discussion “short, sweet and under control.”


Cole, the administrator for Oxford County and an outspoken opponent of Newry’s withdrawal, announced at a Newry Withdrawal Committee meeting that he intended to go through with a bill that would stop the process.

The bill has gained the support of Head, recently elected as state representative, “because of the impact on the other towns if (Newry) leaves (the school district).”

Selectwoman Wendy Hanscom and Selectman Jim Largess made it clear to Cole and Head that while they don’t support Newry withdrawing from the district, they are very concerned that “Newry’s voice is being taken away.”

“You’re taking away our right to vote,” Largess said. “To legislatively take away our right to withdraw is a huge mistake. Come and argue with us why we shouldn’t leave, but don’t take away our right to vote.”

According to Cole, however, the fact that residents of the other three towns don’t get to vote on Newry’s withdrawal is an “equal injustice,” due to the substantial tax increase Newry’s withdrawal would cause for them.

Largess said the opportunity for every voter in the district to have a say was given during the educational cost-sharing formula change referendum, which failed in November.


“Anything that shrinks the tax base is unacceptable, therefore withdrawal is unacceptable,” Cole said.

“If it didn’t affect other people, I’d tell Newry ‘do whatever you want’,” Head said.

Selectman Gary Wight questioned Head’s support and representation of Newry, and speculated whether her involvement in the bill is a conflict of interest because her taxes would go up if Newry withdraws.

“How is this representing the town of Newry?” Wight asked.

“Maybe I’m not representing your interests in this particular issue, but I have other constituents to think about,” Head said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: