SAD 61 signs Sebago withdrawal agreement

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

By reaching an agreement on a proposed withdrawal agreement, SAD 61 and Sebago moved a step closer Monday to a divorce.

The SAD 61 School Board voted unanimously for the withdrawal agreement, which will now be signed by the Sebago Withdrawal Committee (likely within the next week or so), and sent to the Maine Department of Education Commissioner’s Office for review.

While the parameters for Sebago leaving SAD 61 and operating its own school have been laid out, a lot of work remains.

The Withdrawal Committee will look to develop hard numbers regarding what Sebago taxpayers will pay for school costs. Those costs will include present debt owed to SAD 61, operational costs at Sebago Elementary and creation of a central office (the town would need to hire a superintendent to oversee the new school system), and tuition for students attending Lake Region Middle and High Schools.

SAD 61 Superintendent of Schools Al Smith made a brief presentation Monday night, outlining the agreement’s key points. They included:

  • The agreement is for 10 years.
  • The withdrawal would be effective July 1, 2018.
  • Year 1 of withdrawal (2018–19) would remain status quo — Sebago students would stay where they are. Year 2 (2019–20) and beyond, the agreement allows the new Sebago School Administrative Unit (SAU) to consider expanding the local school up to grade eight.
  • Tuition — the new Sebago SAU will pay tuition for 80% (or actual, whichever is greater) of their eligible resident students in grades 6-12 that attend SAD 61, and 75% (or actual, whichever is greater) for the second five years.

The new Sebago SAU will pay tuition in accordance with the state statute; and pay 100% of any special education costs associated with any Sebago resident student attending SAD 61.

  • New and existing debt — The Sebago SAU is responsible for a percentage of any new middle or high school debt based on the number of students enrolled in those schools should a project be approved during the dates of the agreement (on the immediate horizon, no new projects have been proposed).

The Sebago SAU is responsible for its share of all existing debt.

  • Transportation — SAD 61 will transfer three buses (#1, 4 and 17). The Sebago SAU will be responsible for transportation of Sebago students.
  • Undesignated Fund Balance — The Sebago SAU will receive 14.33% of the audited undesignated fund balance as of June 30, 2018.
  • Capital Reserve Fund — The Sebago SAU will receive 14.33% of the unobligated balance in the capital reserve fund.

What’s next

Once signed by the Sebago Withdrawal Committee, which is expected to be immediately, it will be sent to the commissioner for review.

If conditionally approved, the commissioner will notify the school board and municipal officers of the time and place of a public hearing to discuss the merits of the proposed withdrawal agreement.

A public notice regarding the hearing will be posted in Bridgton, Naples, Casco and Sebago at least 10 days prior to the hearing.

Within 30 days following the hearing, the Withdrawal Committee will forward the final agreement to the state education commissioner.

If there are no recommended changes, the commissioner will set a date for a municipal election in Sebago, likely in November to coincide with a statewide vote.

The Town of Sebago needs a two-thirds vote of those casting valid votes in the municipality. If the vote fails, Sebago will stay part of SAD 61, as they currently are. Sebago will not be able to apply for withdrawal for two years, if the agreement received less than 60% of the votes cast.

Smith pointed out that the withdrawal procedure has reached Step 8 of the 22-step process.

In other school board news:

  • Budget approval — Following the reading of legal language acknowledging the recent budget vote, in favor of the $30-plus million package proposed by the school board, Sebago Director Joe McMahon said, “Let the record show that Sebago voted 61% favorable despite the fact than none of the projects made improvements at Sebago Elementary.”
  • Personnel — Sara Powell was approved as the superintendent’s secretary at the Central Office, effective July 10, replacing Cathy Gerrish, who is retiring. Presently, Powell is an office associate at the State Police Troop B in Gray.

She holds a master’s degree in Business Administration and a minor in Human Resource Management, and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration.

There were 17 applicants, four were interviewed.

Kenneth Donahue was approved as a gifted and talented teacher at LRMS, replacing Linda Dutil, who is retiring. There were six applicants, three were interviewed.

Robert Hartnett was approved as a Day Treatment support teacher at Lake Region Middle School, replacing Paul Carignan, who resigned. There were four applicants, two were interviewed.

Brigitte Morse was approved as a special education teacher at Lake Region Middle School. This is a new position. There were 12 applicants, four were interviewed.

Jessica Lockman was granted a child care leave of absence for the 2017–18 school year. She is a kindergarten teacher at Songo Locks School.

Delores Lyons will retire at the end of the school year.

Drew McLaren, a special education technician at LRMS, will resign effective June 13.

Nicholas Orgo, a special education technician at LRMS, has resigned, effective May 23.

No piano after all. Back in April, the school board accepted the donation of a baby grand piano. The piano, however, is not SAD 61 bound. Instead, it was given to a family member.

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