Raymond to leave RSU 14

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer
RAYMOND — Change is in the air.
Six years after voters from the towns of Windham and Raymond approved the union of their two school districts, Raymond residents passed a measure on the ballot to leave Regional School Unit (RSU) No. 14.
During Election Day, 1324 voters supported the withdrawal from the regional school unit, while 940 people were fine with the status quo. Meanwhile, 80 voters left that portion of their ballot blank.
Essentially one-quarter more voters backed the withdrawal and a return to autonomy as a school system.
According to the language of the referendum, the next step for the Town of Raymond will be to file a “petition for withdrawal” with RSU No. 14 and with the State Commissioner of Education.
As part of that ballot measure, Raymond residents are requesting that $25,000 be set aside in the town’s budget to cover any costs involved in withdrawing from RSU No. 14.
According to Raymond Town Clerk Sue Look, “It is money to pay for lawyer fees, and things of that nature.”
She said that research showed “some towns spent more, and some towns spent less” in an effort to undo — or to avoid — consolidation with another town’s school district.
“We are hoping to spend less,” she said.
The issue ended up on the ballot through a citizens’ signature petition. The petition required signatures equaling 10% of the voters during the last gubernatorial election, or 223 signatures.
“The petition was signed by 352 registered voters,” Look said.
“The history of RSU No. 14 is that it was approved at the ballot in November 2008, and the reorganization plan was in place as of February 2009,” said Look.
As part of the school consolidation process, for the next three years, during local elections, residents in the towns of Windham and Raymond had an opportunity to end or to continue as a consolidated school district. That question was referred to as the consolidation referendum.
According to a news article that appeared in August 2012, there were 136 towns involved in consolidation; and almost 30 towns were discussing or actively seeking withdrawal.
By Wednesday night, the Board of Directors for RSU No. 14 will have met for the first time since the Election Day vote.
The board is comprised of six people from Windham, and three residents of Raymond. The makeup of the school board is based on populations in the two towns.
The results of Election Day are posted on the website of the Town of Raymond.

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