BETHEL — The School Administrative District 44 board of directors heard a plea Monday night to “reset and rethink” the process of Newry’s withdrawal, and issued a plea to the community concerning social media.

Newry Selectman Jim Largess, who attended the meeting as a citizen, asked the directors to “step back, hit reset and rethink the whole process.”

Largess said he is concerned about the “fundamentally flawed” new bill created and supported by Scott Cole of Bethel and state Rep. Fran Head, R-Bethel, which would stop Newry from being able to vote on withdrawing.

“We don’t have a voice,” Largess said. “How do we get a voice? You guys sit in your circle and I stand outside and talk.”

There were no comments from the board after Largess spoke.

The withdrawal effort began over two years ago, prompted by the amount of money Newry pays to educate its students. The cost-sharing formula is based 100 percent on property value, which has Newry paying about $3 million of the district’s $9 million budget. Since then, Andover has withdrawn to run its own school system.


In 2014, Newry residents voted 82-60 to also withdraw. Since then, a series of proposals and counterproposals have been offered, including changing the cost-sharing formula so Newry pays less and Bethel, Greenwood and Woodstock, more.

The vote to change the formula to a 90 percent property value and 10 percent student enrollment for the fiscal year 2017-18 and then to an 85/15 split in fiscal years 2019-20 and beyond, failed on Nov. 8, 2016.

Since then, Newry has continued with the withdrawal process.

Newry Withdrawal Committee member Jim Sysko said the town had proposed to pay tuition to send its 25 students to SAD 44 and additional money as agreed upon with the district.

However, Superintendent David Murphy said Monday night that the school board has not received any further proposals from Newry since voters rejected the formula change.

In other business at Monday’s board meeting, board member Marcel Polak of Woodstock referenced a Facebook post on the Team Bethel page last week. It accused school officials of ignoring a problem concerning the shower drains in the boys’ locker room. The post claimed that maintenance supervisor Ron Deegan was notified and ignored the issue.

Polak said that Deegan had not been notified, and the issue has since been taken care of. He encouraged residents to question what they see on social media.

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: