Andover school withdrawal plan outlines education and accounts for SAD 44 debts, assets
A 15-page proposed agreement drawn up by the Andover Withdrawal Committee outlines the town’s plan to account for its assets and debt/financial responsibility in SAD 44, should Andover vote to leave the district.
It also describes how nearly 100 Andover students would be educated.
The SAD 44 School Board is expected to hold an initial discussion of the proposal with its attorney at its meeting Monday, according to Supt. Dave Murphy.
Andover and the district will then formally negotiate a final agreement, to be voted upon by town residents in the spring. If approved, the withdrawal would take effect June 30 of this year.
In addition to providing for the education of students, a withdrawal plan must address the town’s share of responsibility for the district’s outstanding debt, as well as compensate the town for its share in the assets of the district. Andover has been a member of SAD 44 since the district’s formation in 1965.
The Andover plan, created with the assistance of legal and educational consultants, addresses in detail how Andover and SAD 44 would part ways. Following are some key points, but they do not include every provision or scenario addressed in the plan.
The proposal calls for the town to form its own new School Administrative Unit, and to continue to provide education for its K-5 students at the Andover Elementary School. During the first year after withdrawal Andover students could continue to provide education for its K-5 students at the Andover Elementary School. During the first year after withdrawal Andover students could continue attending the SAD 44 schools they would have attended if Andover had not withdrawn.
Following the first year after withdrawal, SAD 44 would agree to accept as tuition students any Andover students in Grade 6 and above who wish to enroll.
Tuition would be at the state approved rate. At least some special education costs would be additional.
The tuition rate calculations exclude expenditures for special education.
The new SAU would receive the state education subsidy allocations for Andover students attending SAD 44 schools on a tuition basis, as well as for Andover students attending others schools outside SAD 44.
For special education, SAD 44 would provide services for Andover students enrolled in the district, while Andover would provide services for those not in SAD 44.
As for costs, the SAU and SAD 44 would agree that each would be responsible for all of the education costs of the Andover students apportioned to each.
The plan notes that for the purpose of securing and retiring indebtedness generally, the district will remain intact. As an alternate means for retiring the debt, the plan proposes that SAD 44, exclusive of Andover, will pay any remaining debt service on outstanding bonds, notes and lease purchase agreements of SAD 44, while the SAU would pay the same for work done on AES. (SAD 44 will finish payments on a Crescent Park Elementary School addition in 2014.)
For debt incurred in the 2012-2013 school year, SAD 44 would again remain intact for purposes of retiring and securing that indebtedness. As an alternate means for retiring the indebtedness, SAD 44 would agree “to retire such debt by assessing the taxable property in the remaining towns in SAD 44 and further agrees not to assess taxable property located in Andover for that purpose.”
(The district recently approved a $1.3 million loan for improvements to Telstar High School.)
In addition, SAD 44 would pay 10.07 percent of SAD 44’s undesignated fund balance as of June 30, 2013, to the SAU, “adding back all funds of any type expended or reserved for building work on Telstar High School or for any other school within SAD 44 during the 2012-2013 school year.”
Other parts of the proposed agreement include:
AES and other school real estate in Andover will be conveyed to the new SAU;
The ownership of four buses will be transferred to the SAU to meet transportation needs;
On June 30 all continuing contract teachers assigned to AES full-time will become contract teachers of the new SAU;
The entire administration and governance of education for students residing in Andover will be transferred to the new SAU as of July 1, except for tuition students in SAD 44.
The withdrawal agreement will terminate June 30, 2026.
After the committee and the district negotiate and settle on a final version of the agreement, a 2/3 affirmative vote by townspeople would be required, as well as the approval of the state Commissioner of Education.
Andover Selectman Susan Merrow, a member of the Withdrawal Committee, said Tuesday she could not elaborate on the details of the proposal because of the upcoming discussions with the district.
She said a draft budget for the potential SAU must be submitted with the agreement to the Department of Education when both sides settle on the agreement. Andover currently pays approximately half a million dollars annually toward the SAD 44 budget.
On Tuesday, the committee voted to prepare a letter requesting a timeline extension from the DOE, Merrow said, because a 90-day window required for completing negotiations is Jan. 21.
SAD 44 Supt. David Murphy also declined to comment on the proposal until after Monday’s board discussion.