Structure & Governance

Maine schools are organized in different ways throughout the state. In order to assist in the processes associated with proper school structure and governance, the Department provides information here on how to form a new school administrative unit, how to reapportion the school board, school closure procedures, district organization and cost sharing information, and town withdrawal procedures.

You can find a school administrative unit by town here.

Maine's school administrative units (SAUs) use the following school governance structures:

  • Regional School Units
    • A regional school unit (RSU) is a combination of two or more municipalities that pool their educational resources to educate all students. One school committee (comprised of representatives from each of the municipalities) administers the education of grades K-12 through a superintendent of schools. Budget approval is by majority vote of those present and voting at a district budget meeting followed by approval at referendum. The member municipalities share the RSU costs based on a formula that may factor in state valuation and/or the number of pupils as specified in their voter-approved reorganization plan.

  • School Administrative Districts
    • A regional school unit doing business as a school administrative district (RSU/SAD) and school administrative districts (SAD) is a combination of two or more municipalities that pool their educational resources to educate all students. One school committee (comprised of representatives from each of the municipalities) administers the education through a superintendent of schools. Budget approval is by majority vote of those present and voting at a district budget meeting followed by approval at referendum. The member municipalities share the RSU/SAD and SAD costs based on a formula that factors in state valuation and/or number of pupils. NOTE: There are a few SADs comprised of one town because of unique situations and private and special laws.

  • Community School Districts
    • A community school district (CSD) is a combination of two or more municipalities and/or districts formed to build, maintain, and operate a school building or buildings to educate any or all grades. For example, a CSD may be formed to build and operate a grade 7-12 school for all towns in the CSD. Those same towns will maintain individual control over the education of their K-6 students or belong to a school union. A community school district may also oversee education of all grades K-12.

      CSD school committees are apportioned according to the one person-one vote principle. The member municipalities share the CSD costs, based on a formula that factors in number of pupils in each town and/or state valuation or any combination of each. Community School District budgets are approved by majority vote of voters present and voting at a district budget meeting followed by approval at referendum.

  • Alternative Organization Structures
    • An alternative organizational structure (AOS) is a combination of two or more school administrative units joined together for the purpose of providing administrative and, sometimes, educational services. Administrative services provided by the AOS are system administration (a superintendent and the superintendent's office), special education administration, transportation administration and the business functions of accounting, reporting, payroll, financial management, purchases and audit.

      Each member entity maintains its own budget, has its own school board, and is operated in every way as a separate unit except for the administrative services and those educational services indicated in the AOS reorganization plan. Budget approval is by majority vote of those present and voting at district budget meetings. The member entities share the AOS costs based on a formula specified in the AOS reorganization plan.

      In addition, the AOS school committee is comprised of representatives from each of the member entity school boards and conducts the business of the AOS. All votes of the AOS school committee are cast in accordance with voting procedures specified in the AOS reorganization plan.

  • Municipal School Units (Cities or Towns with Individual Supervision)
    • A city or town with individual school supervision is a single municipality. A school committee administers the education of all grades in the city or town through a superintendent of schools. The city or town charter usually determines the method of budget approval leading up to approval by voters at referendum.

  • Unions of Towns
    • A Union is a combination of two or more school administrative units joined together for the purpose of sharing the costs of a superintendent and the superintendent's office. Each member school administrative unit maintains its own budget, has its own school board, and operates in every way as a separate unit except for the sharing of superintendent services.

      In addition, a union school committee, which comprises representatives from each member unit school committee, conducts the business of the union. All votes of the union committee are cast on a weighted basis in proportion to the population of the towns involved.