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Home > Data Center > School Finance > School District Organization and Cost Sharing > Procedures for Reapportionment

State of Maine
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
State House Station #23
Augusta, Maine 04333

February 2011

STATUTES REGARDING METHODS OF
REPRESENTATION AND REAPPORTIONMENT

 

SCHOOL ADMINISTRATIVE DISTRICT


20-A §1252. METHODS OF REPRESENTATION

The following are methods of representation.

1Method A: Subdistrict representation.  Directors shall represent subdistricts.

A. The subdistricts, as far as practicable, shall be whole municipalities. If the municipalities are divided into subdistricts, then they shall be divided into subdistricts of approximately equal size as determined by the latest Federal Decennial Census or Federal Estimated Census. The municipal officers shall provide a separate voting place for each subdistrict of the municipality.

B. The boundaries of each subdistrict shall be determined by a majority vote of the joint meeting or reapportionment committee. Each subdistrict shall have one director, except that in a municipality comprised of 2 or more subdistricts, the joint meeting may authorize the election of directors-at-large.

2Method B: Weighted votes.  Directors shall cast weighted votes.

A. The committee shall apportion 1,000 votes among all the members of the board. The ratio of the number of votes cast by the directors representing a municipality in relation to the number 1,000 shall be the same ratio to the nearest whole number as the population of the municipality is in relation to the population of all municipalities in the district, as determined by the latest Federal Decennial Census or Federal Estimated Census.

B. To assure the use of whole numbers, the 1,000 votes apportioned among the board members may be increased or decreased by not more than 5 votes.

C. A plan may not permit the voting power of any director to exceed by more than 2% the percentage of voting power the director would have if all 1,000 votes were apportioned equally among the directors.

D. In a municipality served by 2 or more directors, the votes cast by them shall be divided equally among them. The directors shall be elected at large within the municipality unless otherwise provided by municipal charter.

3Method C: At-large voting.  Directors shall be elected at large by all of the voters in the district.

4Method D: Other.  Directors may be elected by any other method that meets the requirements of the one-man, one-vote principle that is not included in Methods A, B or C.


20-A §1253. ELECTION


For the purpose of nominations, school directors shall be considered municipal officials and shall be nominated in accordance with Title 30-A, chapter 121, or with a municipal charter, whichever is applicable.

1Initial meeting on district formation.  On the election of the school directors, the clerk of each municipality within the school administrative district shall forward the names of the directors elected for that municipality to the state board with other data with regard to their election as the state board may require. On receipt of the names of all of the directors, the state board shall set a time, place and date for the first meeting of the directors and give notice to the directors in the manner set forth in section 1202, subsection 3, paragraph A.

2Special provisions.  In the election for representation under the methods provided in section 1252 the following shall apply.

A. Under Method A:

(1) Within 60 days, but no earlier than 45 days after notification by the board of directors of the approval or reapportionment plan, the municipal officers shall call a special election to elect directors to serve under the plan for the school administrative district;

(2) Nomination papers must be furnished by the secretary of the district at least 10 days before the deadline for filing of nomination papers. Notwithstanding any other section of this Title, directors must be nominated by obtaining a minimum of 25 and a maximum of 50 signatures of registered voters residing within the subdistrict. The secretary shall notify the municipal officers of the names of candidates in each subdistrict;

(3) The ballots must be prepared in accordance with subparagraph (7);

(4) The clerks of each municipality shall forward to the secretary the results of the vote by subdistrict;

(5) The board of directors shall meet and total the votes cast for each candidate within each subdistrict and shall immediately notify the clerks in each municipality, the candidates and the commissioner of the results of the vote;

(6) The terms of the directors elected under the original municipal representation system cease on the date that the newly elected directors are sworn into office; and

(7) Notwithstanding any other provision of statute, directors must be elected by secret ballot. The ballots must be prepared for and distributed to the municipalities or subdistricts by the secretary of the district.

A-1. Under Method B:

(1) Reductions in the number of directors must take place in accordance with section 1255, subsection 1, paragraph B;

(2) Additional directors must be added in accordance with section 1255, subsection 1, paragraph C; and

(3) The term of office of additional directors must be determined in accordance with section 1251, subsection 3.

B. Under Method C:

(1) Nominations for directors shall be made on petitions provided by the district secretary. The petitions shall be signed as provided in Title 30-A, section 2528, subsection 4, or if the candidate is a voting resident in a municipality having less than 200 population, signed by at least 20% of the registered voters of that municipality;

(2) The petitions shall be submitted to the registrar of voters in the respective municipalities for certification of the voting residence of the director nominated and of the voters signing the petition;

(3) The registrar of voters shall return the certified petitions to the district secretary not later than 30 days prior to the date of the annual election to be held in the municipality;

(4) The ballot shall be prepared and distributed by the district secretary. It shall give the number of offices to be filled and list the candidates by municipalities or subdistricts in which they are resident;

(5) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, school directors shall be elected by secret ballot;

(6) If all member municipalities do not conduct the election for directors on the same date, then all ballots cast in the elections shall be impounded by the clerk of each municipality:

(a) After all municipalities have voted, the clerks and one or more election supervisors designated by the municipal officers of each municipality shall meet at an agreed upon location and tally the ballot;

(b) The tally shall be completed within one day of the last member municipality election;

(c) The election supervisors shall select from among their members a chairman who shall supervise the tally of ballots; and

(d) The clerk of each municipality shall as promptly as possible after the election certify to the board of directors the result of the voting in that municipality; and

(7) Any recount petitions shall be filed with the secretary of the board of directors and recounts shall be conducted in each member municipality in accordance with the applicable laws.


20-A §1255. REAPPORTIONMENT


The commissioner shall determine the necessity for reapportionment.


1
Duties of commissioner.  The commissioner shall determine if a district is apportioned in accordance with the principles of one person, one vote, if:

A. The commissioner receives a request by the board of directors;

B. The commissioner receives a petition signed by district voters equal to at least 10% of the voters who voted in the last gubernatorial election in the district; or

C. The commissioner determines a district is not apportioned according to the principles of one person, one vote.

The commissioner shall make a determination under paragraph A or B within 30 days of receiving the request or the petition.

2Awaiting census results.  If the commissioner receives a request within 12 months before a Federal Decennial Census or Federal Estimated Census, he may wait until after the new census figures are available to make a determination.

3Findings and order.  If the commissioner finds the district's representation is not apportioned in accordance with the principle of one person, one vote, the commissioner shall, within 7 days of that decision, notify the superintendent of the finding and shall order the superintendent to notify the municipal officers in each municipality in the district and the school board to create a reapportionment committee. The superintendent's notification must include the commissioner's notification, the information provided pursuant to subsection 6 and the time and place for the first meeting of the committee, which must be held not later than 20 days after the notification.

4Reapportionment committee membership.  The reapportionment committee shall consist of one municipal officer and one citizen at large from each member municipality, chosen by the municipal officers, and one director from each municipality, chosen by the board of directors. The appointments shall be made prior to the first meeting of the committee.

5Quorum.  A majority of the committee shall be a quorum.

6Duties of commissioner.  The commissioner shall provide the superintendent with the most recent Federal Decennial Census or Federal Estimated Census figures for each municipality in the district and at least one recommended apportionment plan.

7Duties of the reapportionment committee.  The committee shall:

A. Elect a chairman and secretary and may adopt suitable rules of procedure;

B. Consider and by majority vote adopt a plan including the method of representation, total number of directors and number of directors representing each municipality or subdistrict; and

C. Within 90 days of the first meeting, send a report of their plan to the state board for approval. It may, within the 90-day limit, submit alternative plans for apportionment.

8Commissioner approval.  The commissioner shall approve or disapprove the committee plan within 30 days of receiving it.

9Failure to gain commissioner approval.  If a plan has not been adopted by the committee or approved by the commissioner within the time limits, he shall prepare a suitable plan.

10Putting the approved plan into effect.  On approval of a plan, the commissioner shall send a certified copy to the municipal officers and school directors. The original plan shall be retained in the department files.

A. The approved plan shall be effective immediately. The committee shall determine the terms of the directors who shall be elected at the next annual municipal elections so as to comply with section 1253.

B. If the approved plan requires a reduction of the number of directors to be elected in a municipality, the reduction must be achieved in accordance with this paragraph.

(1) If possible, the reduction must be achieved by the voluntary resignation of one or more of the directors.

(2) If the reduction cannot be achieved in accordance with subparagraph (1) and the plan is approved and filed less than 30 days prior to the annual municipal election, the number of open positions to be filled by the election process must be reduced to the number required by the approved plan.

(3) If the reduction cannot be achieved in accordance with subparagraph (1) or (2), or a combination of the 2, all of the remaining existing directors representing the municipality shall choose by lot which directors' terms must terminate.

C. If the approved plan requires that additional directors be elected in a municipality, the municipal officers shall fill the vacancies by appointment. A new director shall serve until a successor is elected and qualified at the next annual municipal election.

D.  

E. The reapportionment committee shall thereupon be dissolved.

11Duties of present directors during reapportionment.  The board of directors, during the reapportionment of its membership, shall serve as legal representatives of the district until the reapportionment is completed. The board shall carry out all business of the district, including the borrowing of necessary funds which may be required during the period of reapportionment.

12State board review of commissioner's decisions.  A school administrative district or interested parties may request that the state board reconsider decisions made by the commissioner in this section. The state board shall have the authority to overturn a decision made by the commissioner. In exercising this power, the state board is limited by this section.

13Rules.  The state board may adopt rules to carry out this section.

 

REGIONAL SCHOOL UNIT

20-A §1472. METHODS OF APPORTIONMENT

1Method A: subdistrict representation.  Under the method of representation referred to as "Method A," directors represent subdistricts.

A. The subdistricts, as far as practicable, must be whole municipalities. If the municipalities are divided into subdistricts, then they must be divided into subdistricts of approximately equal size as determined by the latest Federal Decennial Census or Federal Estimated Census. The municipal officers shall provide a separate voting place for each subdistrict of the municipality.

B. The boundaries of each subdistrict must be determined by a majority vote of the reapportionment committee under section 1475. Each subdistrict must have one director, except that in a municipality composed of 2 or more subdistricts, the joint meeting may authorize the election of directors-at-large.

2Method B: weighted votes.  Under the method of representation referred to as "Method B," directors cast weighted votes.

A. The reapportionment committee under section 1475 shall apportion 1,000 votes among all the members of the board. The ratio of the number of votes cast by the directors representing a municipality in relation to the number 1,000 must be the same ratio to the nearest whole number as the population of the municipality is in relation to the population of all municipalities in the regional school unit, as determined by the latest Federal Decennial Census or Federal Estimated Census.

B. To ensure the use of whole numbers, the 1,000 votes apportioned among the board members may not be increased or decreased by more than 5 votes.

C. A plan may not permit the voting power of any director to exceed by more than 5% the percentage of voting power the director would have if all 1,000 votes were apportioned equally among the directors.

D. In a municipality served by 2 or more directors, the votes cast by them must be divided equally among them. The directors are elected at large within the municipality unless otherwise provided by municipal charter.

3Method C: at-large voting . Under the method of representation referred to as "Method C," directors are elected at large by all of the voters in the regional school unit.

4Method D: other.  Under the method of representation referred to as "Method D," directors are elected by any method other than those set forth in subsections 1, 2 and 3 that meets the requirements of the one-person, one-vote principle.

 

20-A §1473. ELECTION

For the purpose of nominations, regional school unit board directors are considered municipal officials and must be nominated in accordance with Title 30-A, chapter 121 or with a municipal charter, whichever is applicable.

1Initial meeting on regional school unit formation.  On the election of the regional school unit board of directors, the clerk of each municipality within the regional school unit shall forward the names and addresses of the directors elected for that municipality to the state board with other data with regard to their election as the state board may require. On receipt of the names and addresses of all of the directors, the state board shall set a time, place and date for the first meeting of the directors and give notice to the directors in writing, sent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the addresses provided by the municipalities.

2Special provisions.  In the election for representation under the methods provided under section 1472, the provisions of this subsection apply.

A. In an election under Method A pursuant to section 1472, subsection 1:

(1) Within 60 days, but no earlier than 45 days after notification by the regional school unit board of the approval of the reapportionment plan under section 1475, the municipal officers shall call a special election to elect directors to serve under the plan for the regional school unit;

(2) Nomination papers must be furnished by the secretary of the regional school unit at least 10 days before the deadline for filing nomination papers. Notwithstanding any other section of this Title, directors must be nominated by obtaining a minimum of 25 and a maximum of 50 signatures of registered voters residing within a subdistrict. The secretary shall notify the municipal officers of the names of candidates in each subdistrict;

(3) The ballots must be prepared in accordance with subparagraph (7);

(4) The clerks of each municipality shall forward to the secretary of the regional school unit the results of the vote by subdistrict;

(5) The regional school unit board shall meet and total the votes cast for each candidate within each subdistrict and shall immediately notify the clerks in each municipality, the candidates and the commissioner of the results of the vote;

(6) The terms of the directors elected under the original municipal representation system cease on the date that the newly elected directors are sworn into office; and

(7) Notwithstanding any other provision of statute, directors must be elected by secret ballot. The ballots must be prepared for and distributed to the municipalities or subdistricts by the secretary of the regional school unit.

B. In an election under Method B pursuant to section 1472, subsection 2, a reduction in the number of directors, the addition of directors and the terms of office of additional directors must be in accordance with this chapter.

C. In an election under Method C pursuant to section 1472, subsection 3:

(1) Nominations for directors must be made on petitions provided by the regional school unit secretary. The petitions must be signed as provided in Title 30-A, section 2528, subsection 4 or, if the candidate is a voting resident in a municipality having a population of less than 200, signed by at least 20% of the registered voters of that municipality;

(2) The petitions must be submitted to the registrar of voters in the respective municipalities for certification of the voting residence of the nominee and of the voters signing the petition;

(3) The registrar of voters must return the certified petitions to the regional school unit secretary not later than 30 days prior to the date of the annual election to be held in the municipality;

(4) The ballots must be prepared and distributed by the regional school unit secretary. It must give the number of offices to be filled and list the candidates by the municipality or subdistrict in which they are resident;

(5) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, regional school unit board directors must be elected by secret ballot;

(6) If member municipalities do not all conduct the election for directors on the same date, then all ballots cast in the elections must be impounded by the clerk of each municipality:

(a) After all municipalities have voted, the clerks and one or more election supervisors designated by the municipal officers of each municipality shall meet at an agreed-upon location and tally the ballots;

(b) The tally must be completed within one day of the last member municipality election;

(c) The election supervisors shall select from among their members a chair, who shall supervise the tally of ballots; and

(d) The clerk of each municipality shall as promptly as possible after the election certify to the regional school unit board the result of the voting in that municipality; and

(7) Any recount petitions must be filed with the secretary of the regional school unit, and recounts must be conducted in each member municipality in accordance with the applicable laws.


20-A §1475. REAPPORTIONMENT


The commissioner shall determine the necessity for reapportionment.

1Duties of commissioner.  The commissioner shall determine if a regional school unit is apportioned in accordance with the one-person, one-vote principle if:

A. The commissioner receives a request by the regional school unit board; or

B. The commissioner receives a petition signed by a number of regional school unit voters equal to at least 10% of the voters who voted in the last gubernatorial election in the regional school unit.

In addition to a determination initiated by a request pursuant to paragraph A or a petition pursuant to paragraph B, the commissioner may, of the commissioner's own accord, determine that a regional school unit is not apportioned according to the one-person, one-vote principle.

The commissioner shall make a determination under paragraph A or B within 30 days of receiving the request or the petition.

2Awaiting census results.  If the commissioner receives a request within 12 months before a Federal Decennial Census or Federal Estimated Census, the commissioner may wait until after the new census figures are available to make a determination under subsection 1.

3Findings and order.  If the commissioner finds the regional school unit representation is not apportioned in accordance with the principle of one person, one vote, the commissioner, within 7 days of that decision, shall notify the superintendent of the regional school unit of the finding and order the superintendent to notify the municipal officers in each municipality in the regional school unit and the regional school unit board to create a reapportionment committee. The superintendent's notification must include the commissioner's notification, the information provided pursuant to subsection 6 and the time and place for the first meeting of the committee, which must be held not later than 20 days after the notification.

4Reapportionment committee membership.  The reapportionment committee consists of one municipal officer and one citizen from each member municipality, chosen by the respective municipal officers, and one director from each municipality, chosen by the board of directors. The appointments must be made prior to the first meeting of the committee.

5Quorum.  A majority of the reapportionment committee constitutes a quorum.

6Duties of commissioner . The commissioner shall provide the superintendent of the regional school unit with the most recent Federal Decennial Census or Federal Estimated Census figures for each municipality in the regional school unit and at least one recommended apportionment plan.

7Duties of the reapportionment committee.  The reapportionment committee shall:

A. Elect a chair and secretary and may adopt suitable rules of procedure;

B. Consider and by majority vote adopt a reapportionment plan including the method of representation, total number of directors and number of directors representing each municipality or subdistrict; and

C. Within 90 days of the first meeting, send a report of its reapportionment plan to the state board for approval. It may, within the 90-day limit, submit alternative plans for apportionment.

8Commissioner approval.  The commissioner shall approve or disapprove the reapportionment committee plan under subsection 7 within 30 days of receiving it.

9Failure to gain commissioner approval.  If a reapportionment plan has not been adopted by the reapportionment committee or approved by the commissioner within the time limits of subsection 7, the commissioner shall prepare a suitable plan.

10Putting the approved plan into effect.  On approval of a reapportionment plan, the commissioner shall send a certified copy to the municipal officers and regional school unit board. The original reapportionment plan must be retained in the department files.

A. The reapportionment plan takes effect immediately upon approval. The reapportionment committee shall determine the terms of the directors to be elected at the next annual municipal elections so as to comply with this chapter.

B. If the approved reapportionment plan requires a reduction of the number of directors to be elected in a municipality, the reduction must be achieved in accordance with this paragraph.

(1) If possible, the reduction must be achieved by the voluntary resignation of one or more of the directors.

(2) If the reduction cannot be achieved in accordance with subparagraph (1) and the plan is approved and filed less than 30 days prior to the annual municipal election, the number of open positions to be filled by the election process must be reduced to the number required by the approved plan.

(3) If the reduction cannot be achieved in accordance with subparagraph (1) or
(2), or a combination of the 2, all of the remaining existing directors representing the municipality shall choose by lot which directors' terms must terminate.

C. If the approved reapportionment plan requires that additional directors be elected in a municipality, the municipal officers shall fill the vacancies by appointment. A new director serves until a successor is elected and qualified at the next annual municipal election.

D. The reapportionment committee is dissolved after the approved reapportionment plan is implemented.

11Duties of present directors during reapportionment.  The regional school unit board, during the reapportionment of its membership, serves as the legal representative of the regional school unit until the reapportionment is completed. The board shall carry out all business of the regional school unit, including the borrowing of funds that may be required during the period of reapportionment.

12State board review of commissioner's decisions.  A regional school unit board or interested parties may request that the state board reconsider decisions made by the commissioner under this section. The state board has the authority to overturn a decision made by the commissioner. In exercising this power, the state board is limited by this section.


COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT



20-A §1651. DISTRICT BOARD OF TRUSTEES

The following provisions shall apply to the community school district board of trustees.

1Terms of office.  The terms of office of trustees are as follows.

A. When a community school district has been formed the municipal officers of each of the member municipalities shall appoint 3 residents from each municipality to serve on the board of trustees of the community school district. The 3 trustees shall be appointed as follows: One for one year; one for 2 years; and one for 3 years.

B. Thereafter, one trustee from each municipality shall be elected each year for a term of 3 years by the voters of each of the participating municipalities. The elections shall take place at the annual municipal meetings and the trustees elected, or appointed, shall serve until their successors are elected and qualified.

C. Vacancies, whether caused by death, by resignation or by being absent from the municipality for more than 90 days, shall be filled by appointment by the municipal officers of the municipality which the former trustee represented until a successor trustee is elected for the unexpired term, if any, at the next annual meeting.

2Duties.  The district board of trustees shall:

A. Meet on call of one of its members after reasonable notice;

B. Elect a chairman, treasurer and a secretary. The district board of trustees may authorize the district's superintendent to act as its secretary and treasurer;

C. Determine the representation of each municipality on the district school committee. The representation of each municipality shall be in approximately the same ratio to the total membership of the district school committee as the municipality's latest Federal Decennial Census is to the latest Federal Decennial Census of all of the member municipalities. Federal Estimated Census figures shall be used if they are more recent than the Federal Decennial Census figures;

D. Handle requests of petitions for reapportionment in the manner provided for school administrative districts under section 1255; and

E. Borrow funds as provided in section 1702.

3State board return.  When the trustees have fulfilled the requirements of subsection 2 they shall file a return to that effect with the state board.

4District school committee to act as district board of trustees.  A community school district may vote at any time on the article in section 1602, subsection 1, paragraph C, to see if the district school committee shall be authorized to perform the function of the district board of trustees. If the municipalities vote affirmatively on that article, the district school committee shall perform the duties of the district board of trustees under this chapter.

 

20-A §1653. ELECTION; VACANCIES

1Representation on school committees in districts that do not include kindergarten and grades one to 12; districts that include kindergarten and grades one to 12; starting date for term of office.

Each member town's representation on the district's school committee, as determined pursuant to section 1651, subsection 2, paragraph C, must be chosen as follows.

A. In a district that does not include kindergarten and grades one to 12, the school committee of each member town shall choose from its membership the representation on the community school district's school committee to which that town is entitled. Membership on the district's committee is coterminous with the member's term of office on the school committee of the town that the member represents.

B. In a district that includes kindergarten and grades one to 12, the member towns shall elect their representatives directly to the district's school committee as follows.

(1) For the purpose of nominations, the members of the school committee are considered municipal officers and must be nominated in accordance with Title 30-A, chapter 121, or in accordance with a municipal charter, whichever is applicable.

(2) Upon the election of the members to the school committee, the clerks of the several municipalities within the district shall forward the names of the members of the committee elected by each municipality to the secretary of the district's school committee.

(3) The terms of office are determined by lot as follows: One third of the members of the school committee serve one-year terms; 1/3 serve 2-year terms; and 1/3 serve 3-year terms. In the event the number of members is not evenly divisible by 3, the terms of the members represented by the integer obtained by dividing the number of members by 3 are determined by the preceding sentence; if one member remains, that member serves a 3-year term; if 2 members remain, one serves a 3-year term; and one serves a 2-year term, to be determined by lot. The members of the school committee serve their terms as determined and an additional period until the next regular election of the municipalities. Thereafter, their terms of office date from the time of each municipality's regular election. In a city where elections are held biennially, the term of each member is for 4 years, dating from the time of the regular city election and, following the initial election, the members choose by lot to see who will serve for 4 years and who will serve for 2 years. Thereafter, each member is elected to serve for 4 years.

C. Notwithstanding paragraphs A and B, the voters of a district may vote on an appropriate article at meetings called by the municipal officers of the respective member towns, in accordance with section 1602, to establish a fixed common date for all newly elected school committee members to assume their terms of office. The common date must be subsequent to the last annual municipal election within the district, but may be no later than July 1st of the next fiscal year. The adoption of such a common date is conditional upon the favorable passage of this article at each of the meetings of the member towns. This paragraph does not apply to commencement of terms of office of members elected to fill vacancies. Vacancies are filled for the remainder of the unexpired term as provided in subsection 2, paragraph A.

2Vacancies caused by death or resignation; declaration of vacancy; attendance as nonvoting member.  Vacancies caused by death or resignation are filled as follows.

A. A vacancy on a school committee of a district that does not include kindergarten and grades one to 12, whether caused by death, by resignation or by a member having changed residence from the town that the member was elected to represent, must be filled by the school committee of the town in which the vacancy occurs. A similar vacancy on a school committee of a district that includes kindergarten and grades one to 12 must be filled by the municipal officers of the municipality in which the member resided. The municipal officers shall select a new member from the municipality in which the old member resided to serve until the next annual municipal election at which time a replacement must be elected to serve the remainder of the unexpired term. Evidence that an individual is registered to vote in a municipality is prima facie evidence of that individual's residency.

B. If any representative on the school committee in a community school district that does not include kindergarten and grades one to 12 is absent from 3 consecutive regular committee meetings, the committee may declare that a vacancy exists and the school committee in the representative's town may choose from among its members another representative to the community school committee. The new member must be chosen on the basis of seniority.

Except in municipalities having a municipal charter, if any representative on the school committee in a community school district that includes kindergarten and grades one to 12 is absent without excuse from 3 consecutive regular committee meetings, the committee may declare that a vacancy exists. The municipality shall elect another representative to the community school committee in the same manner as provided for original election under subsection 1, paragraph B. The successor serves for the remainder of the unexpired term.

C. If a member of the school committee in a community school district that does not include kindergarten and grades one to 12 is absent from a meeting, the senior nonvoting member is allowed all the rights and privileges of the absent member. This paragraph applies only to a community with only one member on the community school committee.