Searsport, Stockton Springs officials discuss scheduling of withdrawal votes

By Ben Holbrook | Jan 28, 2014

Searsport officials have scheduled a vote to move forward with its effort to withdraw from Regional School Unit 20, while officials in Stockton Springs have not yet set a date for their vote.

Searsport Selectman Dick Desmarais said the board met Tuesday, Jan. 21, to accept the petitions signed by residents to begin the withdrawal process. He said petitioners gathered 246 verified signatures and they needed 122 to start the process.

Desmarais said the board discussed holding the vote to officially start the withdrawal process Tuesday, March 4. Selectmen are expected to set a date to hold a public hearing on the petition, which must occur 10 days prior to the vote, during their Feb. 4 meeting.

During that meeting several residents spoke in favor of preserving the Searsport District High School and Middle School, which both face possible closures. Selectman Doug Norman was adamant about keeping those schools open.

"I am very upset that the board of RSU 20 would like to close the middle school and Searsport High School," Norman said. "We need more information because getting out of RSU 20 is not as easy as it may seem."

Like Seasrport, residents in Stockton Springs also successfully gathered the required number of signatures to begin the withdrawal process. Town Manager Rich Couch said the selectmen accepted the petitions at their most recent meeting, but have not yet set a date to hold a public hearing or to vote on leaving RSU 20.

“We've started the ball rolling, but we haven't set a date to vote,” he said.

In addition to Searsport and Stockton Springs, the other six towns in RSU 20, Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Northport, Searsmont and Swanville, are also looking at withdrawing from the district.

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Ben Holbrook
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Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.

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