MONMOUTH — They might hope for different outcomes, but supporters on both sides of the regional school unit withdrawal vote are banking on a single number: 960.

That’s how many votes it will take to validate Tuesday’s referendum, which asks whether the town should withdraw from Regional School Unit 2, comprised also of Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell and Richmond.

Without at least 960 votes — the number is a specified percentage of the last gubernatorial vote — the town would remain attached to the school district, and any effort to withdraw could not begin for at least two years and would require starting the process anew, said Ron Moody, chairman of the town’s withdrawal committee.

“It’s so important we bring this town back together again,” Moody said. “I think there’s a lot of division in the town. I’d like to see people on the same page, the way they used to be, in really supporting our schools.”

Jon Hamann, who has led a campaign to reject the withdrawal bid, said he thinks people have made up their minds about how they will vote.

“The consensus seems to be that everyone wants enough voters to participate so that this issue is finalized and we can move on,” Hamann said.

The town began exploring the possibility of withdrawing from the school district more than two years ago. Tuesday’s vote, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Cumston Hall, is the final step in the process.

If voters agree to withdraw, the town would pay an extra $18,000 to reimburse the school district for preliminary costs associated with building a new middle school. Moody said the town probably would keep its third-place standing on the state’s new school construction list, but regardless of what voters decide Tuesday, the state probably wouldn’t have funding to build the school for 10 years.

The withdrawal would not become official until 2014, after a school board is elected.

Moody said it’s impossible to know how much taxpayers will be asked to spend on education if voters decide to withdraw from the school district, but he said it probably will cost the town more to go it alone.

State education officials have said the town would get $200,000 less from the state, based on state funding formulas, than if it stayed in the school district.

However, Moody said, voters would have ultimate control over the school budget. As part of the school district, the will of Monmouth voters can be overturned by voters in the other four communities.

“People are concerned about that, and I can understand why,” Moody said. “Cost, for a lot of people, is a big factor in how people will vote.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642
[email protected]

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