LUDLOW, Maine — An attempt to have the town of Ludlow withdraw from SAD 70 to join SAD 29 failed at the polls Nov. 6.
According to Town Manager Diane Hines, the referendum question seeking to start the withdrawal process failed by a vote of 150-79. Nearly 72 percent of registered voters in Ludlow participated in this year’s election.
The referendum question was sparked by a petition that circulated around town asking residents if they favored withdrawing from the school district. Supporters of the measure felt that the town could save money by making the switch and also expressed a desire to have their children attend SAD 29 for educational reasons.
Opponents countered that financial figures were not concrete, so determining how much of a savings it would be, if any, was nearly impossible. They also expressed a strong desire to see their children remain in SAD 70.
SAD 70 serves the communities of Amity, Cary Plantation, Haynesville, Hodgdon, Linneus, Ludlow and New Limerick. SAD 29 serves Hammond, Houlton, Littleton and Monticello.
This past March, Ludlow residents initiated the withdrawal process by a referendum vote of 67-36 at the town meeting. A committee was created to formulate the town’s withdrawal plan and it then was sent to the state’s Department of Education.
Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen signed off on the plan, but when a discrepancy in the original petition was reported, the entire process was nullified. To initiate a withdrawal process, a petition bearing the signatures of at least 10 percent of registered voters from the last gubernatorial election must be submitted. Supporters of the Ludlow withdrawal effort had submitted a petition bearing the names of 13 residents asking for the process to move ahead, which was better than 10 percent of the 101 residents who voted in the last regular election in November 2011.
The last gubernatorial election, however, occurred in 2010, with 157 residents casting ballots. Therefore, the petition submitted to the state needed to have at least 16 signatures, three more than what was submitted. Even though Commissioner Bowen sent a letter to the town giving his consent for the withdrawal to move forward, the entire process had to begin anew because of the discrepancy.
This time around, due largely to the fact that it was a presidential election, more voters turned out to the polls to cast their ballots.
Hines said the measure could always be resurrected if another petition is circulated, but for now the voters have decided.