EMBDEN — Residents will vote Tuesday on whether to continue the 22-step withdrawal process that the state has outlined for leaving a school district.

A referendum vote is scheduled to take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Embden Town Office. Residents will be asked whether they are in favor of filing a petition with the board of directors of School Administrative District 74 and the Commissioner of Education authorizing a withdrawal committee to spend up to $50,000.

The $50,000 is mostly for legal fees and will come from the town’s surplus account, according to First Selectman Charles Taylor. Members of the withdrawal committee will also be paid $30 per meeting.

“It won’t affect the tax rate because we’re not hitting taxation for it, although down the road if we were trying to utilize surplus to offset an increase, that $50,000 won’t be there,” Taylor said. “If we can spend $50,000 now and save a couple hundred (thousand) per year, it’s a good investment.”

The 22-step process outlined by the state Department of Education requires the town to establish a four-member withdrawal committee; negotiate a withdrawal agreement with the school district; have the Commissioner of Education review and approve the process; and hold a final vote on withdrawal. The first step in the process, a written petition requesting withdrawal and signed by a required percentage of residents, was completed in March with 101 residents signing the petition.

Taylor said that if Tuesday’s vote is in favor of withdrawal, the whole process should take between six and 12 months to complete. In order for the withdrawal to take effect in the 2016-2017 school year, it would need to be completed by November, he said.


Residents in Embden have been considering withdrawal since March, when a withdrawal exploratory committee was formed to address concerns over the amount of locally raised taxes residents pay towards the school budget in SAD 74.

The town was the only one in the district, which also includes Anson and New Portland, to reject the 2015-2016 school budget. In April a committee of the SAD 74 school board, the local cost-sharing committee, decided to ask the full board to look into how local school tax dollars are raised. Like every district in the state, local tax shares in SAD 74 are largely determined by the state’s Essential Programs and Services model, although a portion of local taxes called “additional local” is set by the district.

Because of higher property valuations, Embden currently pays more in local school taxes than Anson, despite enrolling about one-third of the student population.

If the district is able to negotiate a lower additional local share for Embden, it could affect whether residents still want to go ahead with withdrawal, Taylor said.

“I’m only speculating, but I think it would tell us that they want to work with making it more equitable,” he said. “It’s going to be a process.”

A change in the cost sharing formula would also have to be voted on and approved in each town in the district, Taylor said. He said the town is still working to figure out what the exact cost savings would be with withdrawal.


“We need to factor in debt service and figure out with (the school district) or another district what they are going to charge us for tuition,” he said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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