Media Archive

SAD 41 cost-sharing stalled

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 28, July 14, 2004

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

MILO Before the SAD 41 Board of Directors can even talk about altering the cost-sharing formula for member towns, it's going to take an act of the Maine Legislature.

SAD 41 Superintendent David Walker informed the board last week that the law that allowed Lake View Plantation to join the school district nearly 40 years ago must be dissolved.

The law, H.P. 207-L.D. 275, allowed the towns of Atkinson, Milo and Lake View Plantation to form the school district. At the time, three towns were required to legally create a district. However, Lake View Plantation requested a waiver from the traditional cost-sharing formula, which is based on property valuation, as only a few students would be attending. Instead, Lake View sought to pay on a tuition basis. This law allowed that to take place.

According to the law, assessments to member towns in the district are to be based on the state valuation, with an exception. If the costs of maintaining and operating the schools results in a per pupil cost to any participating town in excess of 150 percent of the average per pupil cost, the town's apportionment shall be 150 percent of the average per pupil cost.

Now that Lake View Plantation has withdrawn from the district, the law is no longer necessary and actually hinders any discussion about the cost-sharing formula, according to the superintendent.

"The statute needs to be repealed," Walker said.

The board moved support of opening a discussion about the cost-sharing formula, but reluctantly turned down the vote after Walker's explanation of the dilemma. They then moved "to direct the superintendent to take the necessary action to resolve issues raised by public law H.P. 207-L.D. 275 (1965)." The vote was unanimous.

The town of Atkinson requested that the cost-sharing formula, now based exclusively on property valuations, be revised to reflect student population.

Currently, Atkinson taxpayers shoulder 11.16 percent of the costs to run the district, although students from the town represent only 6.2 percent of the total student population.

By comparison, Brownville pays 26.14 percent of the costs to educate 21.9 percent of the population, Milo pays 45.94 percent to educate 54.88 percent of the population and LaGrange pays 16.76 percent to educate 17.02 percent of the population.

Once a discussion on the cost-sharing formula is allowed to continue, Superintendent David Walker will contact state Department of Education Commissioner Susan Gendron, who will in turn name a facilitator to oversee the process. A committee made up of two residents from each community and one member of the SAD 41 board representing each community then would be established to investigate the cost-sharing formula and to issue a recommendation, which would be voted on at a district-wide meeting.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.