After Study, SAU 21 Will Not Be Dissolved

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, July 22, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

HAMPTON -- School Administrative Unit 21 will stay intact, for now.

"We decided to recommend to keep everything status quo," said Hampton School Board member John Bridle, chairman the Joint Board SAU 21 Withdrawal Study Committee.

The committee, made up of representatives from the six school boards within the SAU, was formed last year to determine whether school districts wanted to dissolve the SAU.

The School Board governing SAU 21 made the decision set up the committee last August, calling the SAU "too big" and "unmanageable."

Several board members said that decision was born out of frustration.

After several meetings, the Withdrawal Study Committee chose to keep everything the way it is.

It voted to disband the committee in March and a two-page report was presented to the joint board in June. The board never took a vote to accept its recommendation.

"No one had questions and no vote was taken," said Bridle, who said talk of disbanding the SAU is no longer there and, as a result, there was no need to move forward.

Committee members said working together as a joint board provides all the districts, especially the smaller ones, with good services.

In addition, South Hampton School Board member Bonnie Griffith and North Hampton School Board member Henry Marsh, who both served on the committee, noted at one meetings that their districts are "getting a good deal money-wise."

Bridle said the joint board, however, needs to concentrate on restructuring operations within the SAU to make it work for everyone.

In their final report, Bridle said the committee noted that it’s only a recommendation and each district still can choose to submit a warrant article before their town to get the ball rolling on withdrawing from the SAU if it desires.

While South Hampton, North Hampton and Hampton Falls are unlikely to do so, Hampton might.

Bridle said the board has discussed it in the past and will likely bring it back to the table in the fall.

If the Hampton School Board goes forward with discussing withdrawal, the board would have to submit a warrant article asking local voters if they want to establish a committee to look at the feasibility of withdrawing from the SAU.

The warrant article would be on the ballot in March.

If voters form the committee, in March 2007, the town would vote on a warrant article containing the committee’s recommendations.

If that passes, the recommendations would be discussed and implemented for the school year beginning in July 2008.

The last time Hampton tried to withdraw from the SAU was in 2003.

Hampton residents voted down that warrant article.

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