n-falreorganization-011509 Falmouth schools get OK to stand alone

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FALMOUTH —The Maine Department of Education has approved the School Department’s alternative school reorganization plan.
The decision means the district can remain independent and avoid a financial penalty of more than $470,000.
Superintendent George Entwistle III said the town officially received the news Tuesday afternoon.
Entwistle said he learned last Thursday, Jan. 8, that a notice of intent had been approved, but the state had also asked for more details.
The requested information regarded legislative language, he said, requiring the district to cite the 2006 student population rather than today’s, and to provide a “clearer delineation of expenditures” in the four DOE-targeted cost areas – administration, transportation, maintenance/facilities and special education.
The information was sent to the DOE the next day.
“It’s been a tremendous amount of work on so many people’s parts and that goes back to the original consolidation plan and all the work those people did,” Entwistle said. “All those people deserve credit to get to where the community wished us to be.”
Because the DOE accepted the plan, Falmouth will avoid a $473,000 penalty that loomed after voters last November rejected consolidation with School Administrative District 51 by a nearly 3-1 margin.
Voters in SAD 51, which includes Cumberland and North Yarmouth, overwhelmingly supported the plan, which had to be passed in all three communities. Last week the DOE approved SAD 51’s alternative reorganization plan, allowing it to continue as an independent school district.
DOE’s decision to allow the Falmouth school district to remain independent is good for the town, School Board Chairwoman Beppie Cerf said.
“It was a job well done by all those who worked really hard,” Cerf said.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.