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8/19/2013 3:46:00 PM
Wiscasset Petition Asks Reserve Account Money Be Used To Withdraw From RSU 12
By Charlotte Boynton

In an effort to keep Wiscasset's potential withdrawal from Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit 12 from impacting the mill rate, a citizens' petition is being circulated in Wiscasset that proposes withdrawing money form the town's reserve account to fund the process.

The petition is being circulated by members of the former Wiscasset Educational Research Panel (WERP) a group of Wiscasset volunteers appointed by the selectmen in 2011 to investigate options for withdrawing from the RSU 12.

WERP is the group that originally circulated the petition to begin the withdrawal process in February 2012, after of nearly a year of research. The panel was made up of former school committee chairman Doug Smith, former educator Sharon Nichols, Selectman Judy Colby, representing the board of selectmen, and others.

According to the explanation on the petition, in order for Wiscasset to withdraw from RSU 12 the town will need to pay a withdrawal fee of about $1.5 million to cover equipment, existing service contracts, and improvements that were made while the town was a member of the RSU. In addition the town will be required to pay the summer salaries of the teachers prior to the beginning of the first school year following withdrawal, which may cost up to $500,000.

The petition is asking that $2 million from the town's reserve account be transferred to the town's account used for current budget items, making funds available to pay for withdrawal.

The petition proposes the money be appropriated to pay any expenses needed to accomplish withdrawal from the RSU, and that any balance remaining after payment of all withdrawal expenses be returned to the reserve account. According to the petition, as of July 31, there is $11.42 million in the reserve account.

The petition must be signed by 167 registered voters, to require the selectmen to put the question before the voters.

The Department of Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen, has approved Wiscasset's withdrawal agreement with the RSU, and as authorized a vote to withdraw for the November 5, 2013 election.

Wiscasset is one of four towns in RSU 12 that are considering withdrawing, Westport Island, Palermo, and Windsor. Other towns in RSU 12 include: Chelsea, Whitefield, Alna, and Somerville.

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