FARMINGTON — Reapportionment was discussed at the Regional School Unit 9 (RSU 9) Board of Directors meeting Tuesday, Jan. 25.

Reapportionment is now up for discussion following the results of the 2020 census. According to MRSA §1472,  the ratio of the board is determined by the latest Federal Decennial Census, which has raised the question of whether the board should prepare for reapportionment.

As it stands, the 16-member board and voting power is divided as follows, according to data provided by Director J. Wayne Kinney:

• Chesterville has one director, Dorothy “Dee” Robinson with 73 votes.

• Farmington has five directors: Kirk Doyle, Doug Dunlap, Scott Erb, Kinney and Gloria McGraw. Each director has 84 votes for a total 420 votes.

• Industry has one director, Mark Prentiss with 50 votes.


• New Sharon has one director, Judith “Libby” Kaut with 76 votes.

• New Vineyard has one director, Lisa Park-Laflin with 41 votes.

• Starks has one director, Chair Carol Coles with 35 votes.

• Temple has one director, Betsey Hyde with 29 votes.

• Vienna has one director, Joshua Robbins with 31 votes.

• Weld has one director, Vice Chair Debbie Smith with 23 votes.


• Wilton has three directors: Gwen Doak, Irv Faunce and Cherieann Harrison. Each director has 74 votes for a total 222 votes.

According to the 2020 census, Kinney anticipates that five of the municipalities would gain more votes: Chesterville, with two more votes; Farmington, with seven (one addition per director); New Sharon, with six; Temple, with one; and Vienna, with one.

Four municipalities stand to lose votes: Industry, with six less votes; Starks, with two; Weld, with two; and Wilton, with seven (two less per director).

New Vineyard’s votes would not change.

Apportionment is the act of assigning each municipality in a district a number of seats on a board of directors. There are three methods of apportionment in which a number of votes is assigned to each director when they go to vote on the board: subdistrict representation, weighted votes and at-large voting.

At RSU 9, the board of directors is divided under a weighted-votes method. This means the number of directors, and the votes they receive, are based on the latest census figures at the time of reapportionment. Each municipality votes for their own directors to serve on the board. The percentages of the 10 municipalities’ populations within the whole district are divvied up to assign a seat, or multiple seats on the board. No director may have more than 5% of voting power. Thus, some of RSU 9’s ten towns have multiple directors.


In a phone interview following the board meeting, Kinney said that while a reapportionment would change the number of votes each director receives, it would likely not impact the number of directors on the board or per municipality.

Though it should occur following a census and population changes that impact the board’s ratio, reapportionment only happens under three situations: a request is made by the board of directors, petitioners in the district, or Maine Department of Education’s commissioner, who “determines a district is not apportioned to the principles of one man, one vote.”

During the meeting, Kinney said the commissioner calling for a reapportionment of RSU 9’s board is “an unlikely event.” In the interview, he explained this is because the DOE is dealing with so much else at this point in time.

Kinney posed that the board should get started with the process and request a reapportionment now.

“I think it’s better for us as a board to ask the commissioner to look into this rather than wait for another petition process to start,” Kinney said.

“We should be prepared,” Kinney said in the interview. “We need to make sure that our school board is represented as well as it could be.”


“I think the drawback by not making the request or not having acted on is that we have a board that is in some cases larger than others and in some cases with where that disparity could grow,” Kinney said during the meeting. ”

During the meeting, Robbins and Hyde agreed — posing the principles of democracy and fair voting power.

“Coming from a really small town — if not the smallest, one of the smallest — Wilton’s numbers have fluctuated and decreased by nearly 300. That’s more than half of my town,” Hyde said. “So when you look at it like that, yeah, I’m for readjustment in having Temple’s votes heard as much as everybody else on this board.”

“On behalf of our little baby towns, when you see the fluctuation of 300 people, a decrease in one of our largest towns that has many more board members, I just think it’s worth considering,” she added.

Robbins said “right now, apportionment is a fundamental issue that’s being addressed throughout the country. This is the bedrock of democracy.”

“These differences may not be very big, but we have a formula that we’re using to apportion of these votes. And what I’m hearing is that ‘it’s really not that big of a change, we shouldn’t bother messing around with it,'” Robbins said.


He acknowledged that there’d be “great risk” to the larger towns if a reapportionment committee instituted an at-large system that would then distribute one director, one vote per town and give smaller towns like Robbins’s Vienna “a very large percentage of the voting power.” However, he believes that reapportionment is a democratic duty.

“It seems like a very small issue, but every 10 years, we should renew this apportionment. We should renew our democratic principles and assure that each person gets their vote in this district,” Robbins said. “I’m going to suggest that even though it seems like small potatoes and we should deal with COVID and all this other stuff, we probably should go through the steps of being democratic.”

“It seems like we could go from now until the next census, delaying this. But I don’t think that’s appropriate,” Chair Coles said.

Not all the directors felt a reapportionment is necessary.

Harrison, of Wilton, said she didn’t think “we need to jump and be the first one [to request a reapportionment].” Nor did she think “there’s a need for us to have that recommendation,” “for the district to take on quite a project” while the board is dealing with so many other issues.

“I just don’t see the necessity at this time to the board with recommendation to take a look at the district and to open that can of worms,” Harrison said. “I see that there is some fluctuation but … it just doesn’t seem it doesn’t seem reasonable to me to have that kind of a change…”


Harrison also emphasized a point that Kinney had made about issues with the census results. He said the results could very well be “botched,” having missed out on “late arrivals” amid an influx of migrants to Franklin County.

“There could be some X factors there — like who turned in their census materials, and who participated in the census,” Harrison said. “Just in general, who’s moved into the district, who’s moved out of the district, who’s moved into different towns.”

Director Scott Erb added that with “with all the COVID stuff and all the things going on at school the idea that there might be a [committee] formed, it’d be another issue that doesn’t seem pressing.”

“[It] probably causes me to look at this differently now than it would be if everything else was normal and we didn’t have all this other stuff,” Erb added. “I’m just worried that … if the 30-person committee does get made, [that] adds on to what people are working on already. It may not be a good time to do this.”

It was posed that the number of votes per director haven’t always impacted a board’s vote. Kinney referenced a resident who believed “‘all the Farmington [directors] banded together and they round out the little towns.'” But he said the five Farmington directors “rarely vote the same way.”

“We don’t have that dynamic in here,” Kinney said in the interview. “It just doesn’t play that way on this board. But sometimes people outside of the district feel differently about it, particularly because the way that system is difficult to understand.”

While the votes per director haven’t always come into play and often time the board votes unanimously, Kinney explained in the interview that there have been situations where each director’s votes did or nearly impacted the vote.

He referenced a vote to implement an adjustment to the mask mandate Aug. 10, 2021. Though it was a 7-5 vote, had all of the directors been present, their votes could have shot the motion down.

No vote was made on the reapportionment process. Coles said that “we have this information” and it can be further addressed on a future agenda.

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