Dresden voters will consider a question on whether to submit a petition to the RSU 2 Board of Directors to withdraw from the school district on Tuesday, June 14.
Voters will also be validating the town’s education budget.
Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Pownalborough Hall at 314 Patterson Road in Dresden, to coincide with the state primary election.
On the ballot, voters will consider a question that reads: “Do you favor filing a petition for withdrawal with the board of directors of the regional school unit (RSU 2) and with the Commissioner of Education, authorizing the withdrawal committee to expend $40,000 and authorizing the Selectboard to issue notes in the name of the Town of Dresden or otherwise pledge the credit of the Town of Dresden in an amount not to exceed $40,000 for this purpose?”
The question will merely start the process of withdrawing from RSU 2 and is not a commitment to spend $40,000, according to Jeff Pierce, chair of the RSU 2 Exploratory Committee.
He said in a phone interview on Tuesday, June 7 that the cumbersome nature of the question is because it is written by the Maine Department of Education and is the first in a detailed 22-step process outlined by the state agency for withdrawing from an RSU district.
The $40,000 figure is an estimate calculated by the exploratory committee of how much total it will cost Dresden to withdraw from RSU 2.
“That takes care of all the legal paperwork and rewriting all the teacher’s contracts,” Pierce said.
The question was added to the ballot after a petition was signed by 10% of the people that voted in the last gubernatorial election in Dresden. According to the Department of Education, in 2018, 953 residents in Dresden voted.
Therefore, the petition must have received at least 96 signatures to be included on the ballot.
If voters approve the question, the exploratory committee will continue its work and look at the next steps for withdrawal. If the question is not approved, the committee will disband, Pierce said.
The committee originally put out a survey to Dresden residents and found support for withdrawal from RSU 2.
“If the survey came back people didn’t want to get out, we would have stopped,” Pierce said.
The RSU 2 Exploratory Committee formed in August 2021 after the board of selectmen appointed members to explore Dresden’s options for withdrawing from the district, which also serves the towns of Farmingdale, Hallowell, Monmouth, and Richmond.
The board took this step after a contentious budget season in 2021, during which Dresden voters rejected the RSU 2 district budget, although it ultimately passed by a slim majority in the rest of the district.
Both the board of selectmen and the Dresden Budget Review Committee came out against the RSU 2 budget and distributed flyers to the community advising citizens to vote against it prior to the June 2021 annual town meeting.