St. George, RSU 13 agree on withdrawal plan
Rockland — The Regional School Unit 13 School Board and the St. George Withdrawal Committee came to an agreement June 26 concerning the town's desire to withdraw from the district and create an independent K-8 school.
The committee will forward the agreement to the Commissioner of Education, Jim Rier, for approval before sending 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 700 people.
St. George has worked for four years seeking exploratory education, increased governance, and freedom to fund extracurricular activities for St. George students.
The district and the town have been in negotiations concerning the withdrawal agreement since January. The point of contention previously was the state funded rate St. George would pay the district to educate its students.
The tuition rate offered by St. George is $2,500 less than the cost per student the district spends. The rate of $9,200 offered by St. George is a state-set number. RSU 13 spends about $11,700 educating each student, according to state data.
Terry Driscoll, withdrawal committee chairman, said the town and the district negotiated the figure the town would pay.
The terms of agreement stipulate St. George will have the St. George School building and responsibility for the property's associated debt. The town will elect a school board to operate the K-8 school. High school students will have the choice to attend five area secondary schools — Oceanside High School, Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, Camden Hills Regional High School, Lincoln Academy in Newcastle and the private Watershed School in Camden. Tuition to all local schools will be paid for by the St. George Municipal School Unit.
According to budgets drafted by the town's withdrawal committee and educational committee, taxes will not increase in creating the district and payments to the district.
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.
A public hearing to discuss the educational aspect of withdrawal is set for July 15 at the St. George Town Office at 7 p.m.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at email@example.com.