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School System Reorganization News

September 2007

The Maine Legislature has passed a law that requires school systems to reorganize into larger districts that function like an SAD. This news bulletin will be distributed regularly by the Lamoine School Committee to provide ongoing information to the townspeople of Lamoine.

Some details of the law and where we are now

The full text of the new law is available on the Maine Department of Education website. It is 61 pages long. It was revised many times and then passed quickly in June. There are some contradictions within the law that will be corrected in January.

In Maine , school systems are called “school administrative units”. Lamoine is its own “school administrative unit”, and combines with other towns to form a “school union”. Under the new law there will be only one type of school system, a Regional School Unit (RSU). It will be governed by one board, the RSU board. Through a planning process taking place this fall Lamoine is determining what towns to join with as an RSU, and developing a plan for what this consolidation would look like. By law the plan must include details about: the board of the RSU; method of voting for the RSU board; disposition of school property; assignment of school personnel contracts and collective bargaining agreements, and disposition of debt among other things. If the RSU wants to allow local school committees to continue this must be part of the plan, and the duties of these local committees must be spelled out. The final plan is submitted first to the Commissioner of Education, and then to the citizens of Lamoine for a vote.

Consolidation Timeline

Aug. 31, 2007 – This was the deadline for each “school administrative unit” to file a notice of intent to engage in planning with other SAU's. Lamoine is considering many options for consolidation and filed 4 letters of intent:

To date the Commissioner has approved our 3 possible consolidation plans and has not approved the plan to transform SU#92 into an RSU. We are still trying to pursue this as an option.

Dec.1, 2007 – Lamoine School Committee must submit an interim or final reorganization plan to the Commissioner of Education.

If Lamoine submits a final plan and it is approved by the Commissioner there will be a town referendum by January 15. If Lamoine has not finalized its plan by December 1 it can request an extension. In this case the town referendum must be held on June 10.

The Planning Process

All groups participating in the reorganization process must have a planning committee, called the Reorganization Planning Committee (RPC). This group, and particularly the Lamoine members of this group, will advise the Lamoine School Committee. The RPC is currently meeting twice a month and all meetings are open to the public. The schedule of meetings is:

September 24

October 17

October 27

November 12

November 19

A finance subcommittee has also been meeting, and other subcommittees are being formed. Lamoine representatives to the RPC are Faith Perkins (school); Cynthia Donaldson (municipal); Dick Davis (public) with Kathleen Rybarz and Bob Pulver as alternates (public and school). This team will often be meeting in between the larger RPC meetings and they will advertise these meetings on the Lamoine Town website or through Town email. They appreciate any feedback and welcome questions from the community.

School choice

Many people have been asking about school choice. Lamoine parents will still have school choice. In an RSU we will have a secure relationship with one high school but our students will have choice about which high school they attend. If there is an additional cost to do this the cost will be part of Lamoine's share of the budget.

Priorities for Lamoine

The Lamoine School Committee is committed to keeping a school in our community. During the next month the committee will be identifying priorities and values that will drive our decision-making. The RPC will be looking at similar factors such as school programs, curricula, class size, staffing levels, and community support which will help us choose our partners.

Role for citizens

Stay informed. The Ellsworth American is publishing articles about our process weekly. Look for the yellow consolidation logo which highlights these articles. Contact members of the RPC when you have questions. Attend School Committee meetings and RPC meetings. There will also be several community forums on consolidation, and we hope you will attend. The first forum is scheduled for Monday, October 1 from 7:00 to 8:30 at the Lamoine Consolidated School .

To contact the Lamoine members of the RPC:

Faith Perkins 667-5815

Cynthia Donaldson 667-2382

Dick Davis 667-9873

Kathleen Rybarz (alt) 664-0069

Bob Pulver (alt) 664-2433