Albion Elementary School is slated to be closed under a building consolidation plan being pursued by Maine School Administrative District 49. That has prompted Albion residents to consider withdrawing the town from the school district. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

ALBION — The town committee negotiating with Maine School Administrative District 49 on a proposal for Albion to leave the district is considering a plan that would keep the town’s elementary school open, even if it were to mean an increase in property taxes.

Albion residents have balked at the district’s effort to close Albion Elementary School in favor of a nearly $46 million consolidated elementary school to be built in Benton.

The Albion School Withdrawal Committee met Tuesday and provided an update on months of negotiations it has held with the district, including a plan to keep the Albion school open should the town ultimately decide to leave the district.

Committee members said they want to ensure that residents still support the plan, even if it means an increase in taxes.

The committee is about halfway through those negotiations, according to committee Chair Kara Kugelmeyer.

Another committee member, Scott Corey, told residents Tuesday: “The citizens of Albion drive this process. You guys decide whether or not you want us to keep driving on.”


The committee will eventually create a final agreement that must first be approved by the Maine Department of Education. The agreement would then go before Albion residents for final approval. But the panel wants to be sure residents remain interested in leaving MSAD 49.

Were that departure to happen, the current proposal would have the town operate the elementary school for students in prekindergarten through sixth grade, and then use a school choice model for older students.

A key concern now is finding a nearby school district that would guarantee to accept all of the older students from Albion, an agreement that would be required by the state so the town could ensure an education for all students. While families in town could choose to go to any district, there need be one that will guarantee to take Albion students.

“It means that they will always take our kids,” Kugelmeyer said.

The committee had hoped MSAD 49 would agree to be the guaranteed provider, Kugelmeyer said, but at this point in the negotiations, the district has said no. Talks are ongoing with other districts.

The committee Tuesday also presented several budget scenarios for the Albion school, if the town were to withdraw from MSAD 49. In comparing various options, the town could be looking at a spending increase of between $50,000 and $650,000.


Kugelmeyer said she would anticipate an increase to property taxes of 2 to 5 mills — 1 mill equaling $1 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. She added that staying in the district does not guarantee costs and property taxes would not increase.

The committee has held a series of informational sessions for residents, and Kugelmeyer said it plans to follow up with a survey. The panel wants to confirm whether people are still invested in withdrawing.

Part of the frustration from residents with the district has been that Albion has not had enough of a voice in the decision to close the elementary school. The two Albion representatives on the school board voted against the measure to consolidate and close schools, but were outvoted by members from the other towns.

“We’re moving through this process, no matter what’s going to happen, so that our town has a chance to make its own decision about its future,” Kugelmeyer said.

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