BRIGHTON PLANTATION — The community will form an official committee to look into withdrawing from Madison-based School Administrative District 59.
“I think small towns in general suffer in larger school districts. We’re just a different type of community than Madison and its about doing what’s best for us,” said Christine Morgan, who is the treasurer, real estate tax collector and municipal clerk for Brighton Plantation, which has about 100 people in its jurisdiction. She is also a founding member of the Brighton Education Exploratory Committee.
Morgan said that Brighton has six students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade in the district and that the town pays about $118,000 per year, an average of about $20,000 per student, in school taxes.
She is also a former school board member and the last active Brighton Plantation member to sit on the SAD 59 board. There is one seat allotted to Brighton on the nine-member board. Morgan resigned earlier in the year after she was hired by the district and the position has since remained vacant.
“I think people get very discouraged. It’s hard when you are the only representative and your vote is weighted against six members from Madison,” she said.
Brighton is the latest town in the Madison-based district to look into withdrawal. In 2010 the town of Starks seceded from the district and last month Athens voted to form a withdrawal committee. If Athens and Brighton leave, Madison would be the only town in the district.
Morgan said her town formed its own Brighton Plantation Educational Exploratory Committee and that it has been working with the Athens Education Exploratory Committee since March.
She said that like the Athens committee, Brighton is considering joining Dexter-based Alternative Organizational Structure 94, a district comprised of a small group of towns that share a core group of administrative officials but that maintain individual control over school budget and curriculum.
Another option she said would be to independently negotiate tuition rates with area schools and send students to a high school of their choice in either Madison, Skowhegan, Dexter, Pittsfield or Dover-Faircroft. She said that the estimated cost of this would be about $8,000 per student.
According to the state Department of Education website, the next step in the withdrawal process is for the town to set up a meeting with the local school district and to appoint a committee comprising one community member, one school board member, one selectman and one member of the education exploratory committee.
District Superintendent Todd LeRoy could not be reached for comment on Thursday afternoon. Earlier in the year he did say that the district did not plan to take a stance on Athens’ plans to withdraw.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368