Voters in Portland and six other communities will be deciding next week whether their local school district should join a regional service center.

The centers are part of a new state initiative that provides additional state education funds to districts that band together to create regional centers – and penalizes districts financially if they don’t.

In Portland, Question 1 asks whether Portland should join the Greater Sebago Education Alliance. If it does not pass, Portland school officials say, the district will lose almost $100,000 in state funds.

Other communities voting next week on joining a regional center are South Portland, Gorham, Westbrook, Brunswick, Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth.

Depending on those votes, the Greater Sebago Education Alliance Regional Service Center could include public schools in Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, Brunswick, Gorham, Regional School Unit 6 (Buxton, Hollis, Standish, Limington and Frye Island), Regional School Unit 14 (Windham and Raymond) and School Administrative District 15 (Gray and New Gloucester).

Some towns voted on the centers in the spring elections.


So far, 53 towns have voted to join nine regional centers, said Maine Department of Education spokeswoman Rachel Paling. Six school boards have voted not to join, and did not put the issue before local voters.

The centers are intended to provide certain services to their member districts. At the Greater Sebago Education Alliance, there will be a food service purchasing co-op and regional professional development. Other centers might provide special education services or consolidate transportation, maintenance or human resources.

In the most recent state budget agreement, lawmakers decreased state funding for school system administration from $135 per pupil this school year to $92 per pupil in the 2018-19 school year and to $47 per pupil in 2019-20.

School districts that are part of regional service centers can receive an additional $46-per-pupil for the regional service center next school year, and that increases to $94 in 2019-20. Starting in 2020, Maine’s education commissioner would determine the per-pupil allocation.

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