FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors voted unanimously Tuesday to submit a preliminary application to form the Western Maine Regional Service Center.

The preliminary application does not lock the district into continuing to be a member of the center that would include several districts sharing services under system administration, Superintendent Tom Ward said.

Part I of the application is due to the state by Nov. 30. The second part is due April 15, 2018.

School superintendents learned more about the state’s requirement to form regional service centers at an October conference and from a lawyer from the firm of Drummond Woodsum in Portland who volunteered to meet with them, Ward said.

All schools systems in the state will lose state aid in 2018-19 for administration costs, including superintendent, central office staff, technology administration and the school board.

The governor proposed to eliminate system administration in the current budget, but legislators put some back. At one point in past years, system administration was funded at 100 percent under the Essential Programs and Services funding formula. It was reduced to 50 percent and now is at 40 percent, Ward said.

This school year, districts are receiving allocations of about $135 per pupil for system administration. In 2018-19, they will receive allocations of $92 per pupil, according to the Maine Department of Education website. If a school system is a member of a regional service center, it will get more money for administration.

In 2019-20, all school administrative units will receive allocations of $47 per pupil for system administration, unless it is a member of a regional service center.

For RSU 9, if it belongs to a service center, it would get about $400,000 more next year and $100,000 the following year, Ward said.

“The attorney advised us to apply for the first step,” he said.

There is a bill before the Legislature to delay the implementation of the state law.

Ward said it is being called an incentive to share services. The district already shares services with several school districts involved in the Western Maine Education Collaboration.

In the preliminary application to join the regional center, the services that would be shared would be a regional special education day treatment center, Pennacook Learning Center in Rumford, which has been funded through an Embrace grant. This special education program has a planned capacity of 45 to 50 students, according to the application.

Each district would pay tuition to send students who require out-of-district placement. It will serve students in kindergarten through grade 12 in a “therapeutic public day treatment setting,” according to the application.

RSU 9’s three-day treatment centers will remain in-district. Out-of-district placements typically cost between $50,000 and $100,000, not including transportation costs.

Other services that would be shared are substitute teacher training, hiring and management and food service menu planning and bulk purchasing of food commodities and other consumable products.

Regional School Unit 10 in the Rumford/Buckfield areas and SAD 44 in the Bethel area already share the latter services.

Among the school districts signing on to submit the preliminary application are RSU 10 and SAD 44. Regional School Unit 56 in the Dixfield area is also listed on the application. RSU 73 in the Jay area plans to withdraw its name from the application, Superintendent Kenneth Healey said.

Ward said the reality and concern of this additional funding is that it will be coming out of existing funding in General Purpose Aid to Education.

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