On the eve of hotly contested withdrawal votes in Palermo and Windsor, the RSU 12 Board of Directors passed a special resolution supporting the continued participation of each of its current seven member communities.
The Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit, currently composed of Alna, Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville, Whitefield, Windsor, and Westport Island, has been the subject of several withdrawal efforts since its foundation in 2009.
In 2013, Wiscasset voters approved withdrawing from RSU 12 in favor of an independent school system. Westport Island initiated withdrawal proceedings in 2012 but voted this past June to discontinue the process due to a change to the original cost-sharing formula, which was a major catalyst for withdrawal advocates in Westport Island. Nov. 4 will determine whether Palermo, in Waldo County, and Windsor, in Kennebec County, will follow in Wiscasset’s footsteps.
Cost and local control continue to be the primary motivations for withdrawal advocates in Palermo and Windsor. The revised cost-sharing formula that was approved in 2012 increased costs per student for Palermo and Windsor, while decreasing costs for communities with fewer students, such as Westport Island. Palermo and Windsor paid less per student as independent school districts before their consolidation into RSU 12.
Despite this, on Oct. 28, the RSU 12 Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution urging RSU 12 to stick together. Increased student proficiency scores in reading and math, higher than average spending on direct instruction, lower than average spending on administrative costs, and a five-year Teacher Incentive Fund grant were among the reasons cited by the RSU 12 Board of Directors for why the school unit should remain intact.
The resolution proposed the creation of local school committees for each of RSU 12’s member communities to advise the board of directors to better serve the needs of its students.
“The RSU 12 Board decided to adopt this resolution because it’s their feeling that the district now is just right,” Howard Tuttle, RSU 12’s Superintendent told The Lincoln County News. “It’s been a rocky start but things are settling down and moving along. We’re able to provide certain services and programs that will be harder to provide if we’re a five-town district.”