The first of two public hearings on a proposal for the town to withdraw from Regional School Unit 13 is slated for Tuesday, April 23 at the St. George Town Office.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

An earlier petition in support of district withdrawal spurred the select board to set a referendum vote for Monday, May 13 — a day prior to the annual town meeting.

If the town votes to approve withdrawal from RSU 13, the board will officially begin the process and appoint four members to form a withdrawal committee, said Chairman John Snow in March.

The committee will be responsible for drafting a withdrawal plan, working on agreements with local high schools to accept St. George students, and prepare the creation of an independent school district.

A detailed list of steps toward distinct withdrawal can be found on the town education committee's webpage.

Snow said the board is considering a few people for appointment that have expressed interest in being involved, but added no posts have been established yet.

The education committee, which has been working to find solutions to academic and governing concerns with the district for two years, will remain as a body to work with the district, school board members, and the municipal select board, he said.

Snow said the education committee will likely also lend support to the withdrawal committee.

A total of 340 signatures were gathered, compared to 150 required. Snow said the amount of signatures collected demonstrates a strong interest in moving forward.

In a document highlighting frequently asked questions about the withdrawal process, education committee members wrote, "we are concerned about the implications of current trends on the education of our children and derivatively, on the life of our community."

The information states education costs consume over half of the town's taxes and questions whether the municipality is getting value for the expense and if students are being prepared for and educated for a fulfilling life.

In the 2013-2014 town budget, Town Manager John Falla earmarked $25,000 to be appropriated for potential withdrawal costs such as legal fees if the referendum is approved.

The final plan must be approved by the commissioner of education and later would face a second municipal vote in March 2014 or November 2014.

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.

If the referendum is defeated, St. George would remain part of RSU 13.

A second public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, May 2, 7 p.m. at the town office.

Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.