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Rollinsford to consider out-of-state schooling

ROLLINSFORD - Residents will determine in March whether to send some of their students to school in Maine in the fall of 2015.

Residents will discuss withdrawing the school district from its Authorized Regional Enrollment Area (AREA) agreement with Somersworth and consider nine other articles during the deliberative session, which is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Rollinsford Grade School at 487 Locust St. Voting will be March 12 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Rollinsford Town Hall at 667 Main St.

Currently, students in kindergarten through sixth grade attend classes at the Rollinsford Grade School. Seventh-graders and beyond are educated in Somersworth. Rollinsford pays tuition to Somersworth as part of their AREA agreement, which has been in effect since 1968.

After voters decided to form a withdrawal committee in March, officials from Rollinsford and Somersworth began working on a plan which would be both feasible and suitable for both districts. On Nov. 21, the state Board of Education recommended the public allow the district to enter a new plan to send students in grades seven through 12 to Marshwood School District, which includes the towns of Elliot and South Berwick, Maine.

If Article 9 passes, the district will continue with the withdrawal process, but if it fails, the district will remain in the AREA agreement.

Article 5 would appropriate $5,343,258 for the district's operating budget. It is $151,414 - or 2.8 percent - more than last year's budget of $5,191,844.

If defeated in March, the default budget of $5,286,636 will be enacted, but the district can call a special meeting to discuss a revised budget, if needed. Article 6 would approve $47,183 for the costs of a collective bargaining agreement to increase the salaries and benefits of teachers and paraprofessionals while increasing health care premiums of teachers.

If approved, two articles would authorize repairs to the Rollinsford Grade School. Article 7 would appropriate $83,350 - including withdrawing up to $40,000 from a capital reserve fund - to replace the fire alarm system, while Article 8 would appropriate $61,000 to remove asbestos. The remaining costs would either come from the fund balance, which is available after June 30, or from taxation.

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