A new cost-sharing formula could benefit Wiscasset and Westport Island, two Regional School Unit 12 towns considering withdrawal from the district.

But that doesn’t faze committees charged with looking into withdrawal.

Wiscasset Selectman Jeff Slack, a member of Wiscasset’s RSU 12 Withdrawal Committee, said the new offer from RSU 12 will not affect the committee’s charge. Chairwoman Mary Myers also said the committee will not base its decisions on any change in the RSU 12 formula.

“But it will save the taxpayers of Wiscasset some money,” Slack said.

Jerry Nault, chairman of the RSU 12 board’s finance committee, has explained that RSU 12 proposes to replace the current system — in which towns pay a fixed percentage of the budget — with an allocation based on cost per student. An informational meeting on the new allocation proposal is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at Wiscasset High School.

Nault has explained that, under the new proposal, RSU 12 would reference the the state’s ED279 report to calculate a cost per student. As it is, a fixed allocation is in place.

Eugene Stover, an RSU 12 board member from Wiscasset, said the revamped structure would save Wiscasset about $600,000. The savings would be realized over a three-year period on a graduating scale, he said.

Stover said he voted against the new plan when it came to a school board vote, which went 17-2 in favor. Not enough information was available at the time, he said.

He has since changed his mind and voted in favor of the new structure via absentee ballot, Stover said.

RSU 12 barely got its new cost-allocation plan on the Nov. 6 ballot, after Wiscasset selectmen held an emergency meeting early this month to sign the warrant.

Should the majority of RSU 12 towns agree, the new formula would become effective during the 2013-14 school year.

Meanwhile, the RSU Withdrawal Committee in Wiscasset carries on. This Thursday’s scheduled meeting was postponed, but the committee will meet at the fire station, as usual, at 6 p.m. on Oct. 25.

Some Wiscasset residents are convinced the town is bearing an unfair share of school unit expenses, as well as a lack of local control over its schools.

The town is home to Wiscasset High School, Wiscasset Middle School and Wiscasset Primary School.

Last June, residents voted 397-293 to create a withdrawal committee, to explore the impact of withdrawal and possible alternatives.

The committee has hired consultants, and filed for an extension for submitting its plan to the state Department of Education.

The Wiscasset committee also has voted not to join another school unit, and rather to go it alone as an independent.

Westport Island has not decided if it would seek to join Wiscasset, should the latter successfully withdraw.

Dennis Dunbar, a member of the Westport Island Withdrawal Committee, has said that 75 percent of Westport Island students up to grade 8 attend school in Wiscasset, as do two-thirds of high school students.

Other options for Westport include Boothbay-based AOS 98, Damariscotta-based AOS 93 and Bath-based RSU 1, Dunbar said.

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¦ RSU 12 consists of Alna, Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville, Westport Island, Whitefield, Windsor and Wiscasset



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