Expiring terms on RSU 71 board overlooked in Belfast

School officials may appear on separate ballot in November
By Ethan Andrews | Sep 13, 2017

Belfast — What happens when two school board members reach the end of their terms, and no one remembers until it's nominally too late? That's what officials from the city and Regional School Unit 71 were trying to figure out this week.

Belfast directors David Crabiel and Allison Goscinski are serving three-year terms set to expire this year. Neither seat appeared among the open positions in the nomination period for the city's elected officials, which started July 28.

Goscinski said she intends to run again, but when she checked with Belfast City Clerk Amy Flood she was told there were no RSU 71 seats on the ballot this year. Crabiel said he's undecided about a second term.

"I think so," he said. "I've been sort of on the fence, but there's a lot of stuff I'd like to see accomplished and I've enjoyed it."

Though the school board elections are organized by the city, Flood said she second-guessed the schedule after looking at the district's website, which erroneously lists the expiration year for all school board members as either 2018 or 2019.

She and others also spoke of a confusing schedule for RSU 71 elections.

Crabiel and Goscinski took office in January 2015 as part of the inaugural board for RSU 71. In order to have future elections in November, the terms in that first election were shortened by two months, as if they had started in November 2014.

The effect was negligible in the four outlying towns where officers are elected at spring town meetings. But in Belfast, where elections are held in November, the initial three-year terms appeared to expire after two calendar years.

Flood closed nominations on Sept. 7 as planned, not realizing that anything was wrong. The next day, she got a call from RSU board Chairwoman Caitlin Hills, who had just recognized the error.

On Sept. 11, Flood said she was reviewing the City Charter and state laws for clues about how to handle the situation and talking to school officials. Flood said any restrictions in the City Charter would take priority. Next would come any provisions of state law, then the wishes of the school district.

As of Sept. 12, the city had opened a new nomination period for the school board seats. Flood was not available for comment, but several other school and city officials believed the candidates would appear on separate ballot.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.