The voters of Belgrade will have to grapple with a momentous decision this November that will impact how the town will operate and finance the education of its children. Do we continue to be one of the five towns of Regional School Unit 18, where we are often out-voted and our concerns ignored, or do we start the legal process of separation to regain more local control and preserve our historic local school?

Belgrade is paying 27.9 percent of the total local share of the RSU 18 budget, though it only has 16.3 percent of the student population. The town has 1.7 school board votes out of the 10 possible. Requests for a more equitable system of representation and taxation have been ignored. We are merely outvoted. Such a rigged system does not serve Belgrade.

There is a legal procedure for initiating a process of withdrawal from the RSU. More than 20 other Maine towns have done so. It is time for Belgrade to follow their lead.

A number of Belgrade residents have already signed a verified petition to take this step. The petition does not commit Belgrade to withdrawal, but it does allow a legal discovery process to go forward.

A special town forum on this issue is scheduled at the CFAS on Oct. 30 from 6-8 p.m. I urge Belgrade residents to attend, listen, and gather the facts of our situation and consider the alternatives.

There will then be a referendum vote on Tuesday, Nov. 7, asking the town to fund the established legal process for the petition of withdrawal.

I recommend a yes vote on the town ballot Question 1 in order to preserve our historic Belgrade school, provide for more equitable taxation, and re-establish local control.

Gayle Finkbeiner

Belgrade