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Commissioner Responds to Reorganization Plans
Eighty-five percent of the state’s school units are in proposed configurations that comply
December 20, 2007
AUGUSTA – Education Commissioner Susan A. Gendron informed 85 percent of the state’s 290 school administrative units that the configurations for school district reorganization that they proposed in their December 1 filing with the Department of Education comply with the requirements of the reorganization law. With few exceptions, the remaining 44 units are continuing local discussions, are working to find partners, and are in communication with the Department of Education regarding their next steps, she said.
“Tremendous work has been done by local school boards, citizens, municipal officials, superintendents and other educators,” Gendron said. “The results show in what was submitted for reorganization and alternative plans.”
The reorganization law seeks to reduce the number of school administrative units to fewer than 80, a goal that Gendron sees as very likely to be achieved.
“I found 66 of the configurations to comply with the requirement and most of the remaining units fall into about a dozen likely configurations,” Gendron said. The units not in compliance include several, like Glenburn, outside Bangor, and Airline Consolidated School District in Hancock County, which are actively seeking sustainable partnerships. In several areas of the state, a number of small units submitted individual plans, but are continuing discussions to form a single RSU.
A number of the plans were found not in compliance with the law because they showed a configuration of fewer than 1,200 students which is not allowed under the law. In many cases that was because the units had not finalized an agreement to partner with each other and had to meet the Dec. 1 deadline in the law so they submitted a plan to go on their own, knowing it would not be accepted. In addition, the plan submitted by the school administrative units on Mount Desert Island was found not to comply because of the governance structure presented in the plan. However, the island’s proposed configuration does comply.
The Department posted copies of Gendron’s response letters to all the state’s districts on its website Wednesday afternoon and also posted a summary of the responses. Those can be found by visiting http://www.maine.gov/education and clicking on the “School Administrative Reorganization” link.
Only one unit has been approved so far, composed of Bath, West Bath, Woolwich, Phippsburg, and Arrowsic. That consolidation was accomplished through special legislation that passed before the reorganization law. Other units have filed plans with the state that are incomplete. Gendron has given those units until Feb. 1 to re-submit plans.
David Connerty-Marin, Director of Communications, Maine Department of Education 207-624-6880
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