WATERVILLE — The school board voted unanimously, after little discussion at its meeting Tuesday evening, to authorize the superintendent to create a plan to dissolve Alternative Organizational Structure 92.

The AOS, which serves Waterville, Winslow and Vassalboro, is considering dissolving itself so it can pursue the formation of a regional service center in Waterville. This move could lead to financial incentives from the state, including subsidies for administrative work. Waterville is the second board within the AOS to approve creating a plan to dissolve the district. Winslow voted unanimously in November to move the dissolution process along, and the Vassalboro board plans to vote on the same motion at its meeting on Dec. 19.

The AOS 92 board, which is made up of members from each community’s board, also will vote at its meeting tomorrow on whether to go forward with creating a plan to dissolve the district. According to Superintendent Eric Haley, the AOS board’s vote will be the one that decides the issue. If the AOS board approves the motion, regardless of how the Vassalboro board ends up voting on the proposal, the plan to dissolve the district will go before voters in the spring as a referendum. It would take only one community voting in the majority to dissolve the AOS.

Haley said at the meeting that while the AOS board has the final say on taking the issue to voters, he wanted each community’s board to vote on the authorization so that the public knows that the tentative plan to dissolve the district is supported by each of them, and not just by the broader AOS board. He said so far he has not heard of any concerns from the towns about dissolving the district.

Additionally, he said that having the single plan from the AOS board to dissolve the district would be smoother and more efficient than each community coming up with its own plan to dissolve the organizational structure.

While many of details of what the regional service center model that could replace the AOS will look like are not clear yet, state officials say the regionalization should maximize efficiencies in the districts. Haley explained that the service center would just be another way of structuring administrative work, and it could include sharing other services such as transportation. He said that in this model, some of the work that would fall into his lap as a superintendent, such as duties relating to payroll or accounts payable, would be contracted out to another regional service center. Additionally, Haley said that each service center will have an executive director, who could replace or double as a superintendent. Local school systems still could keep or hire superintendents, but their salary cost would have to be paid for completely by the local system without help from the state.


Haley said the rationale behind forming a regional service center is so that the state will reimburse some of the cost of the district’s system administration. The state budget passed in July included a reduction of funding for school system administration. The amount of money districts receive to help pay for administrative costs will drop steadily each year until 2020-2021, which is when, Haley said, that funding allocation will completely dry up and districts will be on their own to pay their administrative costs.

However, if districts decide to participate in regionalization, the reductions in funding allocations for the administration will cease, and the state in turn will give those participating districts more money for their administrative costs.

“No one is exactly sure about this number right now, but we think it’s around $200 per student if you participate,” Haley said in an interview before the meeting. That number would be up from the $135 the district is receiving per student this year after the reimbursement rate was cut during the state budget process, according to Haley.

“Two hundred dollars (multiplied by) 3,700 students in AOS 92 is a serious amount of money. So that’s what we’re going to look at. We’re still researching that to make sure that kind of money is there,” he said.

On top of that, the state also would pay 55 percent of the salary of the center’s executive director, as well as the full costs of the accounting, payroll and student information systems.

If the AOS 92 board votes to authorize the superintendent creating a plan to dissolve the district, Haley hopes that the plan to do so will be ready by the end of December and sent to the commisioner’s office by the second week of January. It then potentially would go before voters as a referendum in March.

Emily Higginbotham — 861- 9239


Twitter: EmilyHigg

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