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Andover’s next step goes to vote Tuesday
ANDOVER- Residents in the small town will be voting on Tuesday as to whether or not they want to continue the process of seceding from SAD 44 in order to keep their elementary school open.
For the past two years the townspeople have done their homework and negotiated with the SADS 44 school board to allow them to keep the kindergarten through fifth grade school open and not force their young children to ride the bus for 90-plus minutes to get to Bethel.
In a recent release, the Save/Recreate AES committee noted, “From the beginning, the movement to separate Andover from SAD 44 grew. The movement has been fueled by these key realizations among concerned Andover citizens:
Costs can be equal to, or even less, for the town of Andover, from running a separate school system of its’ own, especially realizing that other changes in SAD 44’s membership and any additional debt taken on by SAD 44 will likely put added strain on Andover’s town budget in future years, causing local Andover taxes to have to rise if Andover stays in SAD 44.
Going along will assure that AES remains open and will provide stability for families, students and teachers.
The State Department of Education has been, and will continue to be, helpful in providing guidance to the Andover committee in the process of working through the steps that need to be taken to present a final plan of separation for approval or rejection at that second town vote.
The committee wants voters to also be aware of the following:
Did you know that schools remain the number one issue for families when they look to move to an area?
For businesses to attract good employees, schools remain the number one question when they look to move to an area.
Research shows that towns without schools:
Do not increase population the same as town with schools.
Average housing values in the communities with schools are 25 percent higher than in those without schools. Their houses are newer, and more likely to be served by municipal water and sewer systems.
Communities with school enjoy higher per capita incomes, a more equal distribution of income, less per capita income from public assistance, less poverty and less child poverty.
Communities with school have more professional, managerial, and executive workers, more household with self-employment income; 57 percent higher per capita income from self-employment; a higher percentage of residents who work in the village.
These issues are magnified in Andover due to their geographical location, not being a drive-through to another larger community.
Finally, the committee does not want to send the message that the western mountains of Maine are not thriving. “How are the western mountain communities going to thrive if we do not think differently about our joint assets and how we work together?”
Polling hours for the vote will be noon until 8 p.m. at the town hall.
This vote will ask citizens for a town appropriation of $24,000, “which is hoped will not need to be used in full, to enable preparation work to go forward including those negotiations with SAD 44. While some of the legal work will be donated, there will be limited legal fees and professional consulting fees to ensure taxpayers are protected, meaning the best negotiated deal and accuracy in preparing to take on the responsibility of education of Andover children.”
If the town is favorable of the first vote, then there will be a second vote, several months later and administered by the State Department of Education, for the town to decide whether it will, in fact, go ahead and separate from SAD 44.
The second vote will occur only after the results of the negotiations between Andover and SAD 44 are known and the specific terms of withdrawal have thus been worked out. The second vote will approve the town is actually going it alone.
For more information or to speak to the committee, the public is welcome to attend their meetings, which are held on Tuesday nights at 6:30 in the town hall.