2016-03-04 / Community

New RSU 21 withdrawal petitions submitted

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — Questions surrounding petition signatures turned in by a group of Arundel residents hoping to withdraw the town from RSU 21 – raised because some of the signatures dated as far back as 2014 – now appear to be moot, following submission of a fresh batch of names Monday.

Town Manager Keith Trefethen confirmed Tuesday morning that 211 new signatures were delivered to the town clerk’s office the previous day. While those signatures had yet to be verified, Trefethen said it appeared likely that, when added to the 111 signatures submitted to the town Feb. 18 that were signed this year, there would be enough names to move the question forward.

Petitioners needed to submit 198 valid signatures from registered Arundel voters – 10 percent of the townwide vote in the most recent gubernatorial election – in order to force the question onto a town meeting ballot.

“This is going to go before the selectmen for action at their March 14 meeting,” Trefethen said. “I am glad the petitioners went out and got new signatures. The law is somewhat murky on the issue of staleness, and I think this latest petition definitely cleans that up. One thing we never want to lose sight of is the right of our citizens to petition their government.”

The vote prompted by the petition would only require that selectmen form a study committee to look into the pros and cons of withdrawing from RSU 21, and to appropriate whatever sum is deemed necessary to fund the committee and its study. That same process was undertaken in Arundel in 2012, leading some to say any new withdrawal effort need not reinvent the wheel, although there is the added wrinkle of a $56.5 million construction bond approved by voters last year, and what would come of that.

Meanwhile, the RSU 21 Board of Directors will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 7, at Kennebunk Elementary School to discuss the issue – a possible end to school choice for Arundel middle schoolers, which prompted the latest withdrawal effort.

Superintendent Katie Hawes said Tuesday the school board meeting has been moved into the school gym in order to accommodate the expected crowd.

Return to top