MONMOUTH — Voters on Tuesday agreed to begin the process of withdrawing from Regional School Unit 2.

They voted 352-280 to spend up to $15,000 toward negotiating a withdrawal agreement with the school district, which also serves Dresden, Hallowell, Farmingdale and Richmond.

The question was posed on the referendum-style annual town meeting warrant and voting was held in conjunction with Tuesday’s statewide election. Voters approved every question on the warrant, which called for a 2012-13 municipal budget of $2.8 million that is down $2,000 from this year.

Monmouth schools operated independently until 2009, when the town joined RSU 2 as part of the Maine Department of Education’s statewide consolidation mandate. Residents have balked at decisions made by the regional school board — perhaps most notably its decision to eliminate Monmouth Academy’s industrial arts program.

Selectmen included the withdrawal question on Tuesday’s ballot in response to a petition submitted earlier this year.

Town Manager Curtis Lunt said the town will officially inform the state’s Department of Education and RSU 2 officials in the coming days. From there, a committee of town, state and school district representatives will work to negotiate financial parameters for withdrawal. Voters must approve the final withdrawal plan before the separation is completed.

RSU 2 Superintendent Virgel Hammonds fears that the process could wind up hurting those most vulnerable.

Hammonds said the district has an obligation to meet students’ needs even as it negotiates plans to separate. One of the main questions will be how much Monmouth owes the school district and the four remaining towns if it decides to leave.

“I’m sure there will be dissenting voices, so we’ll have to negotiate back and forth quite a bit,” Hammonds said.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]


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