FRANKFORT, Maine — Residents will take another step Thursday in determining whether to have the town secede from its school district and join Hampden-based SAD 22 to the north.

For three years now, some in town have explored the idea of leaving RSU 20, a nine-town school district that serves Belfast, Belmont, Frankfort, Morrill, Northport, Searsmont, Searsport, Stockton Springs and Swanville.

Last month, about 80 people attended a public hearing at Frankfort Elementary School where they were able to ask questions of officials from RSU 20 and SAD 22 about what the change might mean to their children’s education.

That hearing was held after the Board of Selectmen accepted a petition to withdraw from RSU 20, which was signed by the 46 people necessary to make it valid.

From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 8, residents will vote by ballot at the Frankfort Elementary School on whether they prefer to withdraw from RSU 20.

If the majority vote in favor of seceding, that will direct the town and RSU 20 to form a withdrawal committee and begin the negotiation process to separate. But it does not mean that Frankfort absolutely will leave RSU 20, according to Gabe Baker, a parent who has long been involved in the process.

Bruce Mailloux, superintendent of RSU 20, said Wednesday that the decision rests with the Frankfort community.

“It impacts us, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” he said. “We’d like them to stay, but it’s their choice.”