Ordinance public hearings May 22

School options to be presented May 25

By Stephanie Grinnell | May 15, 2017

Stockton Springs — A meeting Thursday, May 25, at 6 p.m., will allow the public to hear from two superintendents about school options for Stockton Springs students.

Selectmen first discussed the idea of exploring a switch to Regional School Unit 25 late last year. Town Manager Courtney O'Donnell said the issue came up because of increasing taxes and the burden on town residents.

Stockton Springs students now are enrolled at RSU 20, which is made up of that town and Searsport. RSU 25 currently serves Bucksport, Orland, Prospect and Verona Island. This is not the first time town officials have explored changing districts. About two years ago the town voted to drop its withdrawal effort, following a committee recommendation to remain part of RSU 20. At that time, the town considered joining RSU 25 and also looked at charter school options.

Superintendents from both school districts will attend the May 25 public meeting and each will make a presentation.

"It will be run like a regular select board meeting," O'Donnell said May 11. "We're not trying to pit them (the superintendents) against each other."

She said the superintendents will explain how budgets are created during the meeting and will take questions from the public.

Selectman Peter Curley said the state funding formulas can be confusing.

"I'm a selectman but I'm also a taxpayer," he said. " ... (RSU 20 Superintendent Chris Downing) has said before it's hard to fathom how the state comes up with the numbers."

O'Donnell said residents who are not involved in the school budget process may not know how complicated it is and urged everyone to attend. O'Donnell said 75 percent of taxes go to the school district to fund education.

"It really is just the cost we are looking at," she said. "Stockton is trying to make sure we're doing the best thing for our citizens."

O'Donnell said switching school districts is a long process, about 18 months, and noted selectmen are not authorized to make that change without voter approval.

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Stephanie Grinnell
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Stephanie is editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. She previously served as editor of Camden Herald following its return in April 2012.

Stephanie also was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has nearly a decade of experience in the newspaper business ranging from southern and central Maine to Waldo County.

Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.

Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and chickens.

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