BAR HARBOR, Maine — Voters in eight towns in the Mount Desert Island area will decide Nov. 4 whether to approve a state-sanctioned plan to reorganize the school administration entity that oversees the area’s elementary and high schools.

The towns of Bar Harbor, Cranberry Isles, Frenchboro, Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor, Swan’s Island, Tremont and Trenton would be part of the new school entity, if it were approved. The new unit is expected to replace School Union 98, which now oversees kindergarten through grade 12 school administration functions in all of the interested towns except Trenton. Trenton is now part of Union 92.

Rob Liebow, superintendent of Union 98, said Friday the vote is on whether to approve the proposed reorganization plan. The outcome of the vote, regardless of which way it goes, will not commit any funds to the new administrative entity. That decision, Liebow said, will be voted on at a later, undetermined date, depending on the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.

If the reorganization plan is approved, Liebow said, a new board of elected officials to oversee the reorganized unit will have to begin work fairly quickly to develop a new budget and to get it adopted for the unit’s 2009-2010 academic year. The new budget would go into effect next July 1.

“We’ve got to get our budget going,” Liebow said. “We’ve got to move ahead.”

The reorganization effort stems from a state mandate to reduce the number of municipal school administrative units in Maine from 290 to no more than 80.

Member towns of Union 98, which already had consolidated many of their administrative functions, lobbied hard and eventually convinced state officials to approve an organizational scheme that, though not a traditional school union, is in many ways similar to the system they have now.

Several other nearby municipalities are expected to vote on a different school administrative reorganization plan next month. Voters in Ellsworth and a dozen towns in eastern Hancock County, including all member towns of Union 96 and most of Union 92, are scheduled to vote Dec. 9 on whether to combine in 2009 to form a single new school administrative unit.


Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....