ROCKLAND, Maine — The Rockland City Council is scheduled to vote Monday, Jan. 11, on forming a committee to study educational options for the community.
Creation of the committee comes in the wake of two referendums that were on the November ballot in Rockland.
A referendum that called for Rockland to begin the withdrawal process from Regional School Unit 13 was defeated 919 to 310. A second ballot measure to have the city explore other educational options, however, was approved 786 to 410.
Monday’s vote is designed to formally authorize creation of the committee. Under the proposal expected to be approved, Mayor Louise MacLellan-Ruf will nominate people to serve on the panel, but the city will first advertise the positions to see who might have an interest in participating. The council later would vote to confirm those nominees.
MacLellan-Ruf said at this week’s council meeting that she wants as diverse a group as possible with panelists of varying opinions.
Councilor Valli Geiger suggested that the school district be contacted to recommend two people to serve on the panel, which will have five to nine members. Geiger said she does not want the committee to come out of the gate with a bias.
She said the committee should look at educational outcomes in an effort to improve them.
Councilor Larry Pritchett said the committee also should look at the formula that determines the cost sharing among municipalities in the district. A year ago, city officials asked the school district to look at changing the formula in an effort to reduce the tax burden on Rockland residents.
Voters approved the formation of RSU 13 in November 2008, and the merger became effective on July 1, 2009. The merger agreement included a cost-sharing formula that placed more emphasis on enrollment, which has resulted in Rockland paying a larger share of the costs.
At Thursday night’s RSU 13 meeting, board Chairman Steve Roberts made reference to the committee being created by the city after the board voted to close two elementary schools as part of a district wide overhaul.
“I want a district so sterling in their eyes that they can’t imagine doing anything else,” Roberts said.
The committee will be tasked with reporting back recommendations to the council by April 11.