September 19, 2008

SAD 30 Rejects Alternative Body, Stays in RSU 17


LEE - The communities of SAD 30 will remain among the approximately 25 towns of the proposed Regional School Unit 17, school officials said Thursday.

The SAD 30 board of directors unanimously agreed during a special meeting last week that its towns will not opt to form an alternative organizational structure with Katahdin area schools, said Scott Maxwell, the board's vice chairman.

"I was kind of in favor of an AOS but an RSU will work," Maxwell said Thursday. "This whole thing has been thrust upon us, but you have got to do something, so we did something."

As part of RSU 17, representatives of Lee, Springfield, Webster and Winn would share authority with a group of elected officials representing the 25 northern Penobscot County towns of, among others, SAD 67 and Union 110.

With about 1,339 students, the communities of SAD 67 and Union 110 have voted to form an RSU, SAD 67 Superintendent Michael Marcinkus has said. SAD 67 serves Chester, Lincoln and Mattawamkeag. Union 110 serves Lakeville and the Carroll, Drew, Macwahoc and Reed plantations.

SAD 31, which serves Burlington, Edinburg, Enfield, Howland, Maxfield and Passadumkeag, also will remain in the proposed RSU 17.

Under the AOS system, towns have their own school boards and meet monthly to address joint issues, much the way school unions do. RSU member communities elect members to one school board but can create school boards or subcommittees from individual towns to advise RSU representatives.

AOS units can vote to join RSUs, but RSUs cannot devolve to AOSs unless their school populations decrease.

Under state law, RSUs must have at least 1,200 students, while AOSs, which can consist of fewer than 1,200 students, can be formed if most RSU criteria are impractical.

The Katahdin region communities - East Millinocket, Millinocket, Medway and Woodville - are discussing forming an AOS.

In their statements regarding AOSs, state officials "gave the impression you get more local control out of an AOS, which I think is just that, an impression," Maxwell said. "You just have to hope that whoever is on the board from this area would put the kids first."

RSU 17 organizational efforts are continuing, with its organization committee meeting as often as once a week to deal with the myriad governance matters that must be resolved before their plan can go to the state Department of Education.

Robert B. Kautz, the facilitator of the RSU 17 organizational committee, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

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