A Maine Sunday Telegram analysis shows that a 5-year-old law overpromised results for some districts, and towns are opting out of the regional systems in search of local control.
Regional School Unit 23 had a rocky marriage right from the start.
For more than two years, the three member communities in York County were gripped by an emotional debate about local control, finances and the future of the district.
In the end, Saco and Dayton each decided to go it alone. Old Orchard Beach is now the sole member of RSU 23, a misnomer that stands as a reminder of the communities’ failed attempt to share resources and cut administrative costs under Maine’s sweeping 2007 school consolidation law.
An analysis by the Maine Sunday Telegram five years after the law took effect found that combined districts did achieve modest administrative savings, but that the average district did not reduce overall spending or pass savings along to taxpayers.
“If we could join and provide common services and save money and improve education, why not? The concept was logical,” former Saco Mayor Ron Michaud said of the school reorganization law. “Its implementation was a total failure. It divided communities up and down the state and saved minimal money.”
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