Area principals to present school programs to St. George parents

By Juliette Laaka | Aug 29, 2014

St. George — With the state's conditional approval of the withdrawal agreement crafted by St. George and Regional School Unit 13, and the town preparing to vote in November on whether to leave the district, area schools are slated to present their programs to St. George parents.

Four local school districts have entered into 10-year contracts with the town to accept St. George students once they reach high school age. Students can choose which schools to attend, including Oceanside High School, Camden Hills Regional High School, Medomak Valley High School and the Watershed School in Camden.  A similar agreement is being discussed with Lincoln Academy in Newcastle.

Tuition to these schools will be paid for by the town, and a portion of the tuition to the  private Watershed School will be paid by the town if withdrawal is accepted by voters. Transportation will also be covered by the town.

According to budgets drafted by the town's withdrawal committee and educational committee, St. George taxes will not increase in operating an independent district.

The next step in the withdrawal process is a public hearing for comment on the withdrawal scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 18 at the McLain School in Rockland. Additional informational hearings will be scheduled by the town.

The hearing will focus on the terms of the agreement, and not whether withdrawal is a good or bad idea, Terry Driscoll of the town withdrawal committee said.  St. George will continue to hold hearings in September and October to inform the public about educational issues and the operation of a proposed K-8 district.

The following week, on Sept. 24, principals of the schools who have negotiated a plan with St. George to enroll students are scheduled to present their programs to parents and answer questions, according to the St. George town newsletter.

Jim Rier, commissioner of education, will then need to approve the final agreement before the town poses the question to voters in November. If approved, the withdrawal would be effective July 1, 2015.

To set up an independent school district, the town must approve the measure with a 51 percent majority of the number of residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election, roughly 725 people.

In June 2013, St. George residents voted 227 to 82 in favor of continuing the withdrawal process.

If withdrawal is approved, a five-member school board will be created to govern the kindergarten to eighth-grade school. Any voting-age resident can run for election, according to withdrawal committee documents.

St. George will have responsibility for its share of debt assumed under the agreement that consolidated SAD 5 and SAD 50 as well as new debt authorized by voters of the district prior to the affirmative withdrawal vote in November, said the agreement negotiated by the town and RSU 13.

Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or

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Juliette Laaka
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594-4401 ext. 118
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Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.

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