Newry selectmen endorse SAD 44 school funding change

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NEWRY — Last Tuesday Newry selectmen unanimously approved a resolution in support of the proposed SAD 44 cost sharing formula change.

A SAD 44 public hearing on the formula change takes place Oct. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Helen C. Berry Auditorium at Telstar. There will also be a district-wide referendum vote Nov. 6.

The Newry resolution explains the proposal of changing the current cost sharing formula based on state-adjusted valuation of member towns to one based eventually 85 percent on valuation and 15 percent on number of students. The plan is to phase it in over a nine-year period.

If approved, the changes would take effect only if Newry residents vote to terminate Newry’s withdrawal process.

The cost-sharing formula has been an issue in SAD 44 for several years.

“We’re not trying to not pay, we just want it to be fair,” Selectman Jim Largess said last week. “I think some people take it as we’re cutting our taxes back. That’s not what we’re doing, I hope people understand that.”

“This funding formula change brings us back to the same as the rest of the state,” Town Administrator Amy Bernard said. “Every other district in the state gets to choose what they want their funding formula to look like.”

“We’re different than everybody else, and all we’re asking for is to be the same,” Largess added.

School House

Selectmen began Tuesday’s meeting touring the Sunday River School House. According to Executive Director of the Bethel Historical Society Randy Bennett, the building was constructed in 1895 on the site of an earlier structure. The school was closed more than 30 years ago when Newry combined with neighboring towns in a bigger school district.

The Selectmen’s main purpose of viewing the 123-year-old buidling was to discuss the possibility of repainting both the interior and exterior of it. The two painters they considered hiring said they were not interested in doing job.

Other Business

After assessing the school house’s condition, selectmen moved further down the Sunday River road to assess a paving job done on a recent snowmaking pipe installment. Sunday River had hired a construction crew to install the underground pipe and then repair the section of road they had dug up. After the pipe was in place, the crew paved all but the final section of road, citing that the road should go through a “freeze and thaw cycle” before adding the final layer. After receiving numerous complaints from residents in the area on the condition of the road , the crew agreed to return and add the final layer. They planned on doing the work near the end of this week.

The selectmen touched on the town’s current broadband plan and entertained possible expansion. They decided to keep the current plan and return to the topic in the next few years.

Selectmen also signed a liquor license renewal for Shipyard Brewhaus.

Selectmen will meet again on Monday, Oct. 1 at 5 p.m. at the Newry Town Office.

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