Towns to begin RSU withdrawal

8 years ago
By Joseph Cyr
Staff Writer

STACYVILLE — Voters in the towns of Moro Plantation, Hersey, Patten, Sherman and Stacyville sent a loud and clear message when they went to the polls Tuesday that changes are needed in the RSU 50 school district.

An overwhelming 84 percent of those voting were in favor of starting the withdrawal process from RSU 50.

Results from the election were as follows: Stacyville, 86 yes, 12 no; Sherman, 202 yes, 38 no; Patten, 198 yes, 39 no; Moro Plantation, 11 yes, 0 no; and Hersey, 9 yes and 2 no.

“The turnout yesterday was very impressive,” said Richard Schmidt, one of the organizers of L.O.C.A.L (Lead Our Community’s Access to Learning) which is a grassroots effort aimed at taking over control of the education of its students. “Understanding there is lots of work to be done, I feel the voters have made a strong statement regarding the future of our schools and the economic state of our communities. I am eagerly awaiting the challenges that lie ahead as we move toward establishing withdrawal committees to represent each town in negotiating a withdrawal agreement with the regional school unit board. I would like to thank everyone who turned out to their respective booths to have their voices heard.”

RSU 50, a combination of the former SAD 25 (Katahdin) and CSD 9 (Southern Aroostook) school districts, was formed in 2011 as part of the state’s push for consolidation at that time. The district lies in northern Penobscot and southern Aroostook counties and is approximately 460 square miles, making it one of the largest geographic school regions in Maine.

The communities of the former SAD 25 began the withdrawal process after the RSU 50 board announced back in January that it was considering drastic cuts, including the possible closure of Katahdin Middle-High School due to declining enrollment in the region.

That plan met with much opposition from those in the Katahdin area, as residents voiced their concerns about losing one of their two schools.

The next step will be for the individual town clerks to give written notices, by registered mail, to the secretary of RSU 50 and to the Commissioner of Education. That letter must include the petition adopted by the voters, including affirmative and negative votes, as well as an explanation by municipal officers stating the reasons why the municipalities wish to withdraw.

The committees for each community must include one member of the town’s board of selectmen, a member from the general public, a member from the group that filed the initial petition, and one member from the school board.

“We will be meeting with legal representation soon to work out the logistics of how all six withdrawal committees from Patten, Mount Chase, Sherman, Stacyville, Hersey and Moro Plantation, can collaboratively and collectively work through the remaining steps,” Schmidt said.