THOMASTON, Maine — Selectmen voted Tuesday night to support the current configuration of the regional school district as residents of neighboring Rockland prepare to vote in November whether to study withdrawing from the district.
Thomaston selectmen have had their town attorney Paul Gibbons attend both recent City Council meetings and Regional School Unit 13 meetings as they try to deal with concerns over the withdrawal possibility.
Selectmen met Tuesday night with Gibbons before voting to approve a resolve in support of RSU 13.
“The Town of Thomaston remains committed to insure that all the children of RSU 13 receive a high quality education. We seek to prevent any action that will be inimical of that purpose,” the resolve states.
The board pointed out that the departure of St. George from the school district created uncertainty and diminished the reputation of RSU 13, which serves Rockland, Cushing, Owls Head, South Thomaston and Thomaston. Many children of RSU 13 lost classmates who now attend school in St. George, which created havoc and an unfavorable learning environment, according to the board.
“Just when RSU 13’s superintendent and financial manager are about to present a plan to increase efficiency and improve the educational experience of the remaining students of RSU 13 after St. George left the district, the city of Rockland voters, by petition, are faced with studying withdrawal from RSU 13. The mere act of studying withdrawal from RSU 13 will again traumatize students and create an unsuitable environment for learning. It will continue to diminish the reputation of RSU 13,” the resolve states.
Because of this instability, parents of preschool children, even in Rockland, will have reason to be suspicious and doubtful about sending their children to RSU 13, the selectmen stated in their resolve.
“For this reason, the town of Thomaston Board of Selectmen, its budget committee, and its school board members hereby resolve to support the continuation of RSU 13 in its present configuration …,” the resolve concludes.
Thomaston’s action follows a 7-0 vote by the RSU 13 board Thursday night to support the school district. Two Rockland school board members who spearheaded the petition drive that will lead to the Nov. 3 referendum — Esther “Tess” Kilgour and Donald Robishaw Jr. — abstained from the vote in support of RSU 13.
Last week, RSU 13 Business Manager Peter Orne projected Rockland’s withdrawal would cost Rockland property taxpayers between $1.5 million and $3 million per year. The withdrawal also would increase costs to the other RSU 13 communities, including an additional $450,000 annually for Thomaston.
Kilgour, Robishaw and Rockland Mayor Frank Isganitis questioned the projections, however.
Former RSU 13 Business Manager Scott Vaitones had correctly projected to the board in 2013 that the loss of St. George would cost the district $1.25 million.
The Rockland City Council is scheduled to hold a formal public hearing 7 p.m. Monday and then vote to set the referendum for the withdrawal. The move is largely a formality because the petitioners gathered sufficient signatures to call for the vote.