The Department is issuing updated guidance on obtaining local approval for a regional service center (RSC). Previous guidance stated that each school administrative unit (SAU) member of an RSC must hold a referendum on their interlocal agreement; however, a recent review of applicable statutes provides that local practices and each SAU’s structure will determine the approval process for an RSC interlocal agreement. Specifically:
Approval by town meeting
For a regional school unit (RSU), school administrative districts (SAD), community school district (CSD) or municipal school unit that has a town meeting to approve the annual school budget, a referendum is not required to approve an interlocal agreement establishing an RSC. These types of SAUs can obtain local approval of the interlocal agreement establishing an RSC at the annual school budget meeting.
Approval by referendum
There is no change to guidance for cities and charter municipalities that do not approve the annual school budget at an annual budget meeting. For SAUs in this category a referendum vote to approve an interlocal agreement establishing an RSC will be required on the June 12, 2018 statewide election day.
As stated in Regional Service Center Part I Letter and Guidance published in the Maine DOE Newsroom in December 2017, the Department remains committed to the goal that initial regional service centers will be operational by July 1, 2018, and encourages all applicants to pursue this timeframe.
In the event that there are applicants with member SAUs that are unable to ratify interlocal agreements in time for July 1, the Department will consider, on a case by case basis, whether it makes sense to hold the regional center subsidy for a reasonable amount of time to allow local school communities to reach agreement. In such an instance, the Department will proceed as follows:
- The subsidy adjustment calculated for each participating SAU on the ED 279 will be held by the Department, pending the negotiation of an agreement between the Department and each SAU.
- In the agreement, the member SAUs will outline the steps that will be taken during the 2018-2019 fiscal year to finalize the regional service center, and laying out milestones that the member SAUs commit to meeting by certain dates to keep the progress on track.
In the event that the milestones are met and ratification of the regional service center occurs by the deadline established in the agreement, the DOE shall make the entire subsidy adjustment available to each member SAU that joins the proposed regional service center and agrees to purchase at least two services from at least two distinct categories.