WINDSOR — Windsor will become the fourth town to try to withdraw from Regional School Unit 12.

Windsor residents voted 193 to 21 to start the long process of separating from the Somerville-based district, which also includes Alna, Chelsea, Palermo, Westport Island, Whitefield and Wiscasset.

“I think it says that people are dissatisfied with the promises versus the actual results of joining the RSU,” said Ray Bates, chairman of Windsor’s Board of Selectmen.

RSU 12 Acting Superintendent Patricia Watts said she’s disappointed by the results because she thinks Windsor’s membership in the RSU is beneficial to both the town and the overall district, in academic and financial terms.

“I think we just need to follow the process, and then they have to decide if it’s worth that amount of money to withdraw and be on their own,” Watts said. “That’ll be the voters’ decision. It’s a little unsettling, and it’s unfortunate from the RSU’s perspective because I think there are some really good things happening.”

The Windsor residents who petitioned for withdrawal said they were unhappy about RSU 12’s new cost-sharing method, which is expected to raise Windsor’s school taxes significantly, and about a perceived lack of local control over issues such as budget, curriculum, class sizes and hiring.

Now a withdrawal committee must be formed, consisting of one RSU 12 school board member and three Windsor residents to be appointed by the Board of Selectmen, to negotiate an agreement for separating Windsor from RSU 12.

Bates said the selectmen will discuss the committee at their scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

The agreement must address the education of Windsor students, a new administrative structure, outstanding financial commitments, disposition of physical property and other issues. It must be approved by the state education commissioner and Windsor residents at another referendum.

Wiscasset and Westport Island both voted to begin withdrawing from RSU 12 last June.

Last week, the RSU 12 school board approved a withdrawal agreement for Wiscasset to become a standalone school administrative unit in July 2014, if the education commissioner and voters approve. Westport Island is likely to be the next town to submit an agreement to the school board.

Palermo residents voted in December to start negotiating a withdrawal. Like Windsor, Palermo stands to pay significantly more in school taxes due to the new cost-allocation method.

Bates said he’ll be in contact with Palermo and hopes Windsor can gain from their experience so far.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
[email protected]

 

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