December 12, 2019

Orono, Old Town, Veazie submit consolidation plans

School boards for the towns of Orono and Veazie, which now are combined under Union 87, have made separate recommendations regarding the newly mandated regionalization process.

The Orono School Board has approved two letters of intent for the town’s school consolidation plan to be sent to the state education commissioner, according to Union 87 Superintendent Kelly Clenchy.

The effort to consolidate Maine’s 152 school administrative systems into 80 regional school units was signed into law in early June, and by Aug. 31, each school unit must file a notice with the commissioner of its intent to engage in planning and negotiations with other schools.

The first recommendation is that Orono follow the state’s recommendation to form a regional school unit with Old Town and Union 90, which includes Alton, Bradley, Greenbush and Milford. In their letter of intent, Orono added Glenburn to this list.

The second letter is to form a regional unit including Orono, Veazie and Glenburn.

In Veazie, the board has submitted three letters, which include the two options listed above for Orono, in addition to the idea of a kindergarten through eighth grade RSU.

The kindergarten through eighth grade RSU proposed includes Glenburn, Orrington, Dedham, Milford, SAD 63 and CSD 8. SAD 63 is composed of Holden, Eddington and Clifton, and CSD 8 contains Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn.

Before making a decision on the letters of intent, the committee reviewed informational letter No. 10 from Education Commissioner Susan Gendron, but concluded that the legislation continues to be confusing and there are numerous questions left unanswered.

Gendron previously warned the above communities against creating a kindergarten through eighth grade RSU without a high school because it would require contracts with one or more high schools in order to be approved.

Old Town has submitted one letter, which follows the state’s recommendation that Orono, Old Town and Union 90 form an RSU.

Old Town Superintendent David Walker said Wednesday that the board has asked him to include a cover letter to Commissioner Susan Gendron stating that “should Legislation allowing towns within a school administrative district to move to a different RSU, we’d be interested in talking with LaGrange.”

Currently, schools within a school union can create separate plans, but SAD’s must remain a whole when combining with others.

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