Decision looming on Sebago possible withdrawal

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Sebago is on the clock.

Tonight, the town’s Withdrawal Committee will meet to consider SAD 61’s latest “agreement” if Sebago chooses to leave the school system.

SAD 61 Superintendent of Schools Al Smith reported Tuesday that the school board had made changes to its offer:

  1. SAD 61 would be Sebago’s “school of guaranteed acceptance” for 10 years, meaning the town would educate grade levels Kindergarten to Grade 5 at Sebago Elementary, while Grades 6-12 would be sent to Lake Region Middle School and Lake Region High School/Lake Region Vocational Center.

If Sebago officials decided to move Grade 6 back to the local school, that change would need to be reported to SAD 61 by Jan. 1 for budgeting purposes.

Smith said the district would still accommodate “superintendents’ agreements,” which would allow a student to go elsewhere if the two school leaders believe it “is in the best interest” of the student (as defined in state law).

However, the “guaranteed acceptance” condition eliminates “school choice.”

At this time, Sebago has 92 students in K-5, and 98 students at the Grade 6-12 level.

  1. SAD 61 would agree to transfer three buses to the new Sebago school administrative unit (SAU) on the effective date of withdrawal. Initially, the district would give up two, but moved to three. SAD 61 owns 31 registered school buses.

While the Sebago Withdrawal Committee has requested an extension from the Maine Department of Education, at the moment, a final decision on the withdrawal agreement is due by Nov. 18.

If the process stays on the current track, voters would act on the proposal. If voters reject the withdrawal agreement, then local education “all stays at the status quo.” If voters accept the agreement, then the town withdraws from SAD 61, upon DOE approval.

Smith noted that if Sebago votes to withdraw, the effective date would be July 1, 2018.

A new Sebago SAU would be required to hire its own superintendent, as well as central office staff. Smith added that Sebago would be required to cover special education costs, as well as past debt service including lease payments on portable units at Songo Locks.

Smith pointed out that the portable unit at Sebago Elementary has been paid off, as have two units at Lake Region High School.

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