A town that wishes to withdraw from a Regional School Unit shall do so in compliance with 20-A MRSA §1466: Withdrawal of a Single Municipality from a Regional School Unit.
A Withdrawal Agreement cannot be executed unless there is documentation that each of the 22 steps has been followed in the specified order. This document is intended to assist in the interpretation of statute, but not replace statute.
Step 2: The municipal officers shall call and hold a special election (article) to vote on whether or not to officially start the withdrawal process.
- The article must specify a dollar amount to be raised to support legal and other withdrawal process costs.
- The article to be voted upon must be in substantially the following form per 20-A MRSA §1466 (2):
Article: “Do you favor filing a petition for withdrawal with the board of directors of regional school unit (name of regional school unit) and with the Commissioner of Education, authorizing the withdrawal committee to expend $ (insert dollar amount) and authorizing the (municipal officers; i.e., selectpersons, town council, etc.) to issue notes in the name of the (name of municipality) or otherwise pledge the credit of the (name of municipality) in an amount not to exceed $ (insert dollar amount) for this purpose? Yes No”
Step 3: At least 10 days before the election, the municipal officers shall hold a posted or otherwise advertised public hearing on the petition (article).
Step 4: The petition (article) must be approved by secret ballot by a majority vote of the voters present and voting before it may be presented to the district board of directors and to the Commissioner of Education.
Step 5: If the vote is favorable, the town clerk shall immediately give written notices, by registered mail, to the secretary of the regional school unit (in a regional school unit the Superintendent of Schools serves as the secretary per 20-A MRSA §1055) and to the Commissioner of Education, which shall include:
- The petition (article) adopted by the voters, including the affirmative and negative votes cast; and
- An explanation by the municipal officers, stating to the best of their knowledge the reason or reasons why the municipality seeks to withdraw from the regional school unit.
Step 6: The Commissioner shall direct the municipal officers of the petitioning municipality to establish a Withdrawal Committee to develop a Withdrawal Agreement in the format specified in the “Required Elements of a Withdrawal Agreement,” per 20-A MRSA §1466(4).
The Four Member Withdrawal Committee shall include members appointed as follows:
- One member from the municipal officers.
- One member from the general public.
- One member from the group filing the petition.
- One member of the regional school unit board who represents that municipality.
Step 7: The chair of the regional school unit board shall call a meeting of the withdrawal committee within 30 days of the notice of the vote in Step 5. The chair of the regional school unit board will open and preside over the first meeting of the withdrawal committee until the committee elects a chair.
Step 8: The Withdrawal Committee shall negotiate a Withdrawal Agreement with the regional school unit board and shall submit the proposed agreement to the Commissioner within 90 days after the Committee is formed. The Commissioner may grant extensions of time upon the request of the withdrawal committee. See “Required Elements of a Withdrawal Agreement.”
Step 9: Within 60 days of the receipt of the Withdrawal Agreement, the Commissioner shall either give it conditional approval or recommend changes.
Step 10(a): If conditional approval is given, the Commissioner shall notify the regional school unit board and the municipal officers by registered mail of the time and place of a public hearing at least 20 days prior to the date set for the hearing to discuss the merits of the proposed Withdrawal Agreement. The chair of the regional school unit board shall conduct the hearing.
Step 10(b): If changes are recommended, the Commissioner shall send the agreement back to the withdrawal committee for necessary corrections; establish a maximum time within which to make the corrections; and indicate that the corrected agreement must be returned to the commissioner for conditional approval before it goes to public hearing as set forth in Step 10(a).
Step 11: At least 10 days prior to the public hearing, the regional school unit board shall post a public notice in each municipality of the time and location of the hearing.
Step 12: Within 30 days following the public hearing, the Withdrawal Committee shall develop and forward the final Withdrawal Agreement to the Commissioner.
Step 13: On receipt of a final Withdrawal Agreement, the Commissioner may recommend changes. If the Commissioner recommends changes, the Commissioner shall send the final Withdrawal Agreement back to the Withdrawal Committee, establish a maximum time frame, and indicate the steps to be followed by the Withdrawal Committee.
Step 14: On receipt of a final Withdrawal Agreement for which the Commissioner recommends no changes, the Commissioner approves the final Withdrawal Agreement and determines the date upon which the municipality proposing to withdraw will vote on the Withdrawal Agreement. The vote shall be held as soon as practicable, and the Commissioner shall attempt to set the date of the vote to coincide with a statewide election.
Step 15: At least 35 days before the date of the vote as determined in Step 14, the Commissioner shall give written notice of the date by registered or certified mail to the town clerk or city clerk of the municipality petitioning to withdraw.
Step 16: The town clerk or city clerk shall immediately notify the municipal officers upon receipt of the notice under Step 15, and the municipal officers shall meet and immediately issue a warrant for a special town meeting or city election, as the case may be, to be held on the date designated by the Commissioner. No other date may be used.
- The municipal officers shall direct that the polls are to be open at least from 10:00 a.m. and remain open until 8:00 p.m.
Step 17: At least 10 days before the special town meeting or city election, the municipal officers shall hold a posted or otherwise advertised public hearing on the withdrawal question.
- The article to be voted upon must be in substantially the following form per 20-A MRSA §1466 (7):
Article: “Do you favor the withdrawal of the (name of municipality) from the regional school unit (name of regional school unit) subject to the terms and conditions of the withdrawal agreement dated (insert date)? Yes No”
- The withdrawal agreement need not be printed on the ballot. Copies of the agreement must be posted in the municipality in the same manner as specimen ballots are posted under Title 30-A MRSA §2528.
Step 18: The special town meeting or city election on the Withdrawal Agreement shall be conducted in accordance with Title 30-A MRSA §2528-2529 or Title 21-A MRSA, as applicable.
Step 19: The town or city clerk shall, within 24 hours of determination of the results of the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, certify the total number of “yes” and the total number of “no” votes on the article to the Commissioner.
Step 20 (Effective for a municipality of a school administrative unit (SAD) that was reformulated as a regional school unit (RSU) and again beginning 1/1/2015 for all municipality members of an RSU): If the Commissioner finds that a 2/3 majority of the voters voting on the article have voted “yes”, the Commissioner shall notify the municipal officers and the regional school unit board to take steps for the withdrawal in accordance with the terms of the agreement for withdrawal.
Step 20 (Effective for a municipality of a regional school unit (RSU) until 1/1/2015): If the Commissioner finds that a majority of the voters voting on the article has voted “yes”, and the total number of votes cast for and against the article equal or exceed 50% of the total number of votes cast in the municipality for Governor at the last gubernatorial election, the Commissioner shall notify the municipal officers and the regional school unit board to take steps for the withdrawal in accordance with the terms of the agreement for withdrawal.
Step 21: When the district board of directors and the municipal officers of the town proposing to withdraw have executed the Withdrawal Agreement, they shall notify the Commissioner by certified mail.
Step 22: Once all of the above steps are completed, the Commissioner shall immediately issue a Certificate of Withdrawal to be sent by certified mail for filing with the regional school unit board and shall file a copy in the office of the Secretary of State, Corporate Division.