Opponents of district consolidation in Maine seek compromises

Nov. 18, 2009
They say changes could make mandated consolidation more acceptable to opponents

From The Bangor Daily News: Two weeks after failing at the polls, opponents of Maine’s school consolidation law were back at the State House with a list of proposed fixes that they argue will make the mandate to merge school systems more palatable to holdout towns.

EARLIER...from The Bangor Daily News: Maine voters have rejected a move to repeal the state’s school district consolidation law. The consolidation issue has been contentious since it was adopted in 2007. The original proposal called for the state's 260 school districts to be consolidated into 26 districts. The Legislature amended the proposal, increasing the target to 80 districts. Under the law, 98 separate school districts, with an average enrollment of 566 students, have reorganized into 26 Regional School Units with an average of 2,133 students. As of July 2009, however, Maine still has 218 districts. Some districts could not find partners with whom they could consolidate. But voters in more than 100 districts, largely in rural areas, rejected reorganization plans despite the penalty they faced through the loss of state education subsidies.

OCTOBER 2009...from The Kennebec Journal: In 2007, the Maine Legislature enacted a school-district consolidation law, calling for the state's 290 districts to merge into 80 regional districts of at least 2,500 students each. Next month, voters will decide whether they want to scrap the consolidation mandate or keep it on the books. Even under the threat of penalties, voters in more than 100 school districts -- largely in rural northern Maine -- voted against mergers, and Maine's 290 school districts have been whittled only to 218.

SIDEBAR: If voters opt to repeal Maine's school-district consolidation mandate Nov. 3, 25 new districts formed under the law would be left without legal standing.

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