BELGRADE — A public hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday will give residents an opportunity to comment on three local referendum questions that will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The one that has stirred the most interest so far is the Petition to Withdraw from RSU 18, the Messalonskee and China schools. The question is the result of a petition circulated in the town last June by Penny Morrell.

The question says, “Do you favor filing a petition for withdrawal with the board of directors of Regional School Unit 18 and with the Commissioner of Education, authorizing the withdrawal committee to expend $15,000? …”

Belgrade is one of five towns in the district, which also includes China, Oakland, Sidney and Rome, and has considered the issue informally previously in response to the town’s rising education costs. Tuesday’s meeting will be held at the Town Office.

The committee reported its conclusions to the selectmen in April 2016 and offered three scenarios for Belgrade residents:

• Staying with the school district at an estimated $5.8 million cost.

• Withdrawing from the school district and contracting to send all students to RSU 18 at an estimated cost of $5.7 million.

• Withdrawing from the district, operating the Belgrade Central School itself for kindergarten through grade 5, and contracting to send higher grades to RSU 18 schools at an estimated cost of a little more than $5.2 million.

Belgrade’s current share of the schools’ cost is based 75 percent on property value and 25 percent on enrollment.

Withdrawing from a school district is a 22-step process set in state law.

If voters approve the move in November, the town clerk must forward results to the superintendent, and a withdrawal agreement then is developed. Voters again would weigh in on that agreement.

Other local questions on the November ballot involve amendments to the town’s Solid Waste and Recycling Ordinance to allow for agreements with other towns so residents could bring recylables and household trash to the Belgrade Station, and a proposal to allow the Belgrade Historical Society to restore or renovate the Old Town House.

The cost of renovating the Old Town House, on Cemetery Road, would be paid by the historical society.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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