Residents of Embden are considering asking the town to leave Anson-based School Administrative District 74 in a dispute over funding formulas, according to town officials.

A petition to start the lengthy withdrawal process has already been filed with town officials, according to the chairman of the Embden Board of Selectmen.

A newly formed SAD 74 Withdrawal Exploratory Committee has been created to explore residents’ concerns over the amount of local property tax dollars Embden is being asked to contribute to the school budget, said Chuck Taylor, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

In a 2015-2016 budget proposal posted to the school district website, Embden residents are being asked to contribute almost $200,000 more than taxpayers in Anson despite enrolling fewer students.

The discrepancy stems from Embden’s higher tax valuation compared to Anson. The difference means Embden does not receive the higher state education subsidies that Anson does, Taylor said.

“This is not a new problem,” he said. “But we feel it is unsustainable, so we are looking for ways to reduce the burden either through the school board changing the cost sharing formula or by withdrawing or tuitioning our students.”

Embden is one of five communities in the Anson-based district, which also includes New Portland, North Anson and Solon. According to the most recent data from the Department of Education, there were 682 students in the district in the 2013-2014 school year. A total of 318 came from Anson, while 122 were from Embden.

The SAD 74 Withdrawal Exploratory Committee was formed in Embden in March, according to the committee’s chairman, Robert Dunphy. He said the committee is planning to hold an informational meeting in the near future.

SAD74 Superintendent Ken Coville is on vacation and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The school board recently met with the committee and will form its own withdrawal exploration committee, according to School Board Chairman Robert Demchak.

“We haven’t looked at any numbers yet. Those things are being put together for our next meeting to see what the impact would be on the school district and the remaining communities should that become the option they pursue,” Demchak said.

Embden is the latest of several communities around the state to explore withdrawal from their local school districts, a process that the state has outlined in a 22-step procedure. The first step requires a petition requesting withdrawal be signed by at least 10 percent of voters who participated in the last gubernatorial election and presented to town officials. Town officials in Embden have already received a petition that meets the requirements, Taylor said.

“I don’t believe there is an issue with the quality of education there,” he said of SAD 74. “That doesn’t seem to be the sentiment. It just seems the taxpayers are fed up. At the local level we try to run a tight budget.” The town’s municipal budget is about $600,000 each year, he said, while the amount of money they are asked to raise in local tax dollars for the coming year is about $1.6 million.

Since 2013, a total of 25 municipalities have withdrawn from school districts around the state, some to form their own districts and others to join a neighboring district, according to the Department of Education.

In nearby Madison-based School Administrative District 59, three communities — Athens, Brighton Plantation and Starks — withdrew from the district within the last five years, leaving Madison the only community remaining in the district.

The changes followed pushback against a 2007 law that encouraged school district consolidation as a way to reduce property taxes amid a declining student population. The law stipulated that districts could look into withdrawing three years after the districts were formed.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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