NEWRY — The town of Newry voted on Tuesday to continue the withdrawal process from School Administrative District 44.

The vote was originally prompted by a petition circulated by Newry resident Steve Wight, who said he believes there is no value in withdrawing, fearing it would lead to a “decreased school system” due to the lack of funding that would result.

The Legislature’s Education Committee, however, recently recommended that the Legislature pass a bill (LD 1336) to allow for “binding mediation” for stalled school withdrawal agreement negotiations.

Newry Withdrawal Committee member William Andrews said he wished to wait and see if the legislation would pass before putting the potential withdrawal halt to a vote, believing the bill may finally help the school board and Newry reach an agreement.

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 approximately $10 million budget. 

In 2014, Newry residents voted 82-60 to 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, which failed in November, but is up for discussion again between the four town managers of Bethel, Newry, Woodstock and Greenwood.

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