School board chairman in group exploring withdrawal

By Kim Lincoln | Jan 23, 2014
Photo by: Kim Lincoln Esther "Tess" Kilgour

Rockland — Regional School Unit 13 Board Chairman Esther "Tess" Kilgour is among a group of people circulating a petition for Rockland to withdraw from the district.

A similar petition is being circulated in Thomaston, and St. George began a process to withdraw from the district three years ago.

She said the school board has faced stumbling blocks when it comes to moving St. George eighth-graders to a central location or talking about closing Owls Head Central and Gilford Butler schools.

"The communities feel strongly about keeping them," she said.

The idea of the petition, Kilgour said, is that each town could work as its own school district when it comes to kindergarten through eighth-grade, and share a combined high school. The idea is similar to the Five Town Community School District in the Camden area.

"What I think is possible here is to come out with something we all build together, and respect the wishes of individual communities, while embracing the acknowledgement and possibilities at the high school level by continuing to keep them as a group," Kilgour said.

Kilgour said the time has come for a conversation and the item will be on the Tuesday, Feb. 11 school board agenda. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at McLain School.

"It's a good opportunity for us to work collaboratively and talk about it. I think the high school piece makes sense, you have got to have a lot of kids in the school to have robust programming and opportunities," she said.

Kilgour stressed she is not circulating the petition as chairman of the school board and has asked whether it is a conflict of interest and was told it is not. Under state law, RSUs cannot be dissolved and the process begins by petition by each individual town, she said.

"It's just part of the process," she said, adding the petition is to explore options and there is no commitment.

She said it may be beneficial in the future to have a public meeting where people can come learn more about it, but the board also needs to have a discussion since this now involves more than one town seeking to withdraw.

To learn more about the process to withdraw from a school district, go to Maine Department of Education website.

Courier Publications Copy Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at

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