NEWRY — Newry Withdrawal Committee members Wednesday sharply criticized a letter from School Administrative District 44 Chairwoman Lainey Cross charging the committee with failing to negotiate in good faith.

Committee member William Andrews said he was “outraged and personally insulted” by the letter Chairman Jim Sysko received Tuesday.

It was the latest disagreement in the more than two-year process for Newry to leave the district it has been a part of since 1965.

It began in June 2014 when Sysko circulated a petition asking for a town vote on withdrawing from SAD 44. That led to a town vote of 82-60 in September 2014 to leave.

Since then, a series of proposals and counterproposals have been offered, including changing the cost-sharing formula so Newry paid less and Bethel, Greenwood and Woodstock more.

The formula is based 100 percent on property valuation, which has Newry paying about $3 million of the $9 million annual budget. 


The proposal to change the formula to 90 percent valuation and 10 percent student population for fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19, and and 85-15 split for 2019-20 was rejected by district voters Nov. 8, 2016.

Since then, Newry has continued with the withdrawal process, proposing to pay tuition to send its 25 students to SAD 44 and additional money as agreed upon with the district.

Last month, longtime Bethel resident Scott Cole advised the committee he contacted state Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Dixfield, and state Reps. Fran Head, R-Bethel, and John Madigan, D-Rumford, to ask them to consider submitting a bill to the Legislature to stop the withdrawal.

The committee has rejected such a move.

In the letter to the committee Tuesday, Cross brought up Sysko’s proclamation that even if the formula change passed, withdrawal efforts would continue.

“Maybe (Newry Withdrawal Committee) support (of the cost-share referendum) would have changed some minds and encouraged more voters to adopt the compromise,” the letter stated. “We will never know.”


She said SAD 44 has participated fully in negotiations, and that the Newry Withdrawal Committee has “made it clear that it cannot or will not address the concerns presented regarding the fiscal and educational impact of Newry’s withdrawal from the school district.”

“Given the above, you offer no reason to continue those negotiations,” Cross said.

She ended the letter by advising the Withdrawal Committee to reconsider its approach to a legal challenge if the Legislature passes the stop-withdrawal bill, calling it “a waste of resources for everyone involved.”

Andrews and Sysko said the letter was full of lies.

“We can document they withdrew from the efforts to have mediation,” Andrews said. “I can’t even remember how many of our proposals went there and sat. That’s not responsive. We gave them the most generous proposal over a 10-year period that would in fact bring more financial resources to the district.”

“The first paragraph is full of misstatements,” Sysko said. “We didn’t refuse to cease withdrawal efforts. The school board required us to put (the withdrawal) up for a vote, and 80 percent of the town voted to continue withdrawal efforts.”

Gary Wight and Bonnie Largess are also members of the committee.

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