Regional School Unit 20 board members voted in a special meeting July 17 to accept the withdrawal agreements with Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Northport, Searsmont and Swanville, allowing the district to submit the agreements to the Department of Education by the deadline required to hold a public referendum on withdrawal Nov. 4.

Each agreement was voted on separately. Maxine Engstrom asked board chair Tony Bagley and Superintendant Brian Carpenter during discussion for each motion if they were satisfied with the agreement for each town. Each time both said they were, and added that RSU 20’s legal counsel Dick Spencer, of Drummond Woodsum, was as well.

“I can probably read this in my sleep,” Bagley said of Northport’s withdrawal agreement.

Each motion to accept each town’s withdrawal agreement passed unanimously with the board member representing the town under discussion abstaining.

Once all the withdrawal agreements were accepted, Engstrom commented, “I hope now that this is out of the way that the board can focus on the students and put our differences aside.”

Kristin Collins, the city attorney for Belfast, recommended that the board vote to give Bagley authority to sign the agreements, which would allow him to sign the most up-to-date versions of all the towns’ withdrawal agreements after the meeting. The board voted unanimously to authorize Bagley to sign the agreements.

Now that the agreements have been approved by the board, they can be submitted to the Department of Education for review. DOE officials have indicated to the board that they would try to speed up the process and provide feedback within 30 days rather than the 60 days allowed by law.

The next RSU 20 board meeting will be held Tuesday, July 22, at 6:30 p.m. at Belfast Area High School.