MSAD 33 to join Madawaska in voting for option one
ST. JOHN VALLEY, Maine — As the Site Selection Committee draws closer to selecting a site to recommend for a new regional high school, each school board or committee has taken a stance on how they see fit to vote in the straw poll.
Their stance could help determine how the final votes are counted, and essentially if the proposed regional high school project will continue forward.
Joined under the umbrella of the Valley Unified Regional Service Center, the three school administrative units, or SAUs, have worked together to address the declining enrollment and rising costs in education.
Last year, the state authorized funding the Valley Unified effort up to $100 million for a new St. John Valley educational facility that would replace three high schools and serve students from Grand Isle to Allagash.
Residents of the member communities will need to vote to approve the final project, and the Maine Department of Education will need to OK plans moving forward.
The straw poll was a topic that was tabled at the Valley Unified Education Service Center Board of Directors meeting at the end of July.
The question is how to conduct a straw poll that would gauge public support.
Each school board committee for MSAD 33 and Madawaska School Department were asked for an official stance on how the straw poll will be conducted when it is time to take one.
There were three options for how to conduct the poll, although deciding which option to take will also determine the referendum process and voter approval requirements.
For the straw poll, the first option is to ask each administrative unit, making it three separate results for each public hearing. The second option is to ask the Valley as a whole at a single public hearing. And the third is to have one single public meeting as well, with the only difference being in the voter approval requirement.
For the referendum process, after the site and concept approval, option one is for the three school units to each have a referendum election. For the second and third options, there would only be one referendum election across the Valley.
For the voter approval requirement, option one is lined up for separate votes in each school unit allowing for a school unit “veto” result. Option two is a collective region-level vote for a majority rules result. And the final option would be where there are town-level votes for a town majority rules result from the eight communities served.
If voter approval is not secured by whichever option is chosen, then the project will not move forward.
The Madawaska School Committee meeting on Aug. 5 voted unanimously in favor of the first option. The school board for MSAD 33 met Aug. 19 and voted to support option one as well.
MSAD 27’s next school board meeting will be held on Aug. 26 when the board will make its choice for an option.
While the three school committees are being consulted, they are not the ones to make the final decision as to which option to choose. The Valley Unified Board of Directors will take their votes strongly into consideration, but has final say.