St. George responds to school board proposal
St. George — Chairman of the St. George withdrawal committee responded to the Regional School Unit 13 board's counter proposal calling the agreement harsh and not representative of the full board's view.
William Reinhardt, who is also the chairman of the town's select board, said the proposed agreement submitted by three representatives of the board appears to be intended to coerce St. George to remain part of the district.
If implemented, he said it would have a negative impact on the RSU 13 budget as well as punish St. George students and taxpayers. These criticisms were presented in a letter addressed to the board and their attorney William Stockmeyer of Portland.
Reinhardt then outlined what he called the most objectionable elements of the proposal, including the district's refusal to accept St. George students on a tuition basis, responsibility for the town to assume non-St.George debt, and their responsibility to administrative contracts.
"Given St. George's geographic and historical connection to Rockland, the board's prior indication of a preference to accept tuition students from other communities and countries, the RSU's declining enrollment and continuing budget shortfalls, it is disturbing the counter proposal would absolutely refuse St. George students who wish at attend high school in Rockland," Reinhart wrote in the letter.
He added that if the board feels its acceptance of students would in some way impose a burden on the district, the committee is willing to discuss another financial formula.
The counter proposal also stated St. George would assume 35 percent of all outstanding district debt, which is contradictory to all other withdrawal plans accepted by the state, and stipulations of state law.
"St.George cannot agree to fund a debt that it has no role in approving and does not affect its own facilities," he said.
The board's proposed agreement also requires the town pay a significant portion of the remaining contracts for several administrative staff members. Reinhardt contends this too, is contrary to the requirements of state law.
"The RSU will continue to benefit from the services of these individuals, whereas St. George will not," he said. He added the requirement is unduly burdensome on St. George as they would be paying for their own staff if they chose to withdraw.
"The St. George Withdrawal Committee remains committed to negotiating in good faith with the RSU 13 Board, and wants to encourage productive exchanges regarding each of these points," the letter states.
He also requested the board vote as soon as possible to schedule a special meeting of the full board to discuss the St. George withdrawal proposal. "Until such a meeting occurs, St.George will not consider any communication from other than the full board or its duly appointed subcommittee," Reindhardt said in closing.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.