CHELSEA — Voters in Chelsea rejected by 116 votes on Tuesday a proposal to withdraw from the Sheepscot Valley School District.

Voters were lined up in the morning at the polling place in the Chelsea Elementary School, and voting was steady throughout the day as Chelsea residents cast their ballots in federal, state and local elections.

Asked whether residents favored filing a petition for withdrawal from Regional School Unit 12 with the school board and the state commissioner of education, 631 voters said “no,” and 515 said “yes.”

The question got onto the ballot via a petition drive, completed in September, that gathered 123 verified signatures — the number required for the warrant article to appear on the ballot.

At that time, Chelsea Selectman Michael Pushard said it was the selectmen’s job to bring such questions to voters for their consideration.

Part of the concern in Chelsea has been the size of the school district’s assessment on the local property tax bill; Chelsea elected officials said they have made town spending decisions based on expected school district expenditures, and have delayed or set aside projects to keep the property tax rate down.


About two dozen people turned out for the Oct. 25 public hearing on the warrant article, where RSU 12 school board member Ralph Hilton pointed out that the cost to run the Chelsea school is about $800,000 more than the $2.2 million that Chelsea taxpayers currently pay to the district.

Those costs would be even higher for the town if it left the school district. That’s because — in addition to footing the bill for running the school — Chelsea taxpayers would also have to pay for a superintendent and a special education director, as well as find space to house them and administrative functions of running the school.

In addition to that, Chelsea would be required to pay the district about $2 million for its share of districtwide projects and commitments.

In an interview with the Kennebec Journal, district Superintendent Howard Tuttle said the district vote on the budget has shown 65 percent to 70 percent approval in recent years.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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