West Bath eyes January vote on RSU 1 withdrawal

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WEST BATH — Residents could vote on the town’s withdrawal from Regional School Unit 1 on Jan. 21, 2014.

The Board of Selectmen held off Wednesday on affirming the date, Town Administrator Jonathan Davis said, but is expected to act on Nov. 25. January has been discussed as the time frame for the referendum vote.

Robert Brown, who started the petition, said Oct. 16 that the town certified 127 signatures, exceeding the required 102 (10 percent of the number of residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election).

If residents approve the referendum, negotiations would start between the town and RSU 1, which also includes Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg and Woolwich. A negotiated withdrawal plan would then go back to West Bath for a second and final vote.

Brown has said local control of costs, school choice and preservation of the town’s school are issues that have driven the withdrawal movement.

Meanwhile, West Bath is suing RSU 1 to recover $1.9 million the town believes it overpaid in the first four years of the school district’s existence. The lawsuit, filed in October 2012, claims West Bath should have been assessed a total of $8.2 million over the course of four years, but instead paid $10.1 million. It claims RSU 1 owes West Bath $1.9 million, plus interest.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.