Northport, Searsmont approve restarting withdrawal process
Residents in Northport and Searsmont voted in favor of restarting their withdrawal processes after a successful vote Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Northport residents voted 153 in favor to 67 against to restart the process while Searsmont residents voted 149 in favor to 40 against.
The vote marks the second time the towns will attempt to withdraw from Regional School Unit 20. Previously, both towns joined Belfast, Belmont, Morrill and Swanville in a failed attempt to withdraw from RSU 20 and reform School Administrative District 34.
Residents in Northport also approved $30,000 to put towards costs related to the withdrawal effort.
So far, Belfast and Belmont are the only other two towns to hold a vote to restart the withdrawal process. Morrill town officials said they have received petitions, but a vote has not yet been scheduled. Swanville officials have not received any petitions to restart the process.
The next step for Northport and Searsmont is to form a withdrawal committee and craft a plan to leave RSU 20. That plan must be approved by the Department of Education and the RSU 20 school board before it goes to a vote.
The committee includes a member of the petitioner's group, a member of the RSU 20 board, a municipal officer and a member of the general public.
State statute requires at least 50 percent of the ballots that were cast in the past gubernatorial election be cast either for or against withdrawal. That turnout requirement resulted in the first withdrawal effort failing after Belfast, Belmont, Northport and Swanville were unable to meet the voter threshold.
Since then, legislation was introduced that would eliminate the 50 percent voter turnout requirement and instead require only a simple majority. However, the legislation was sent back to committee prior to the end of the legislative session.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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