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Lawsuit decision in favor of SAU 35

SAU 84 will not appeal according to chair

April 29, 2009
BETHLEHEM—A lawsuit brought forward by School Administrative Unit (SAU) 35 against Littleton when the town formed its own school administrative unit has been decided in SAU 35's favor.

The lawsuit was brought nearly two years ago when the newly formed SAU 84 tried to recover money it contributed to SAU 35 prior to withdrawing from that district. It was attempting to get 44.87 percent of money held by SAU 35 in an equity account held as of July 1, 2007.

The trial was held in February of this year.

Littleton formed SAU 84 in 2007 after voting in 2006 to withdraw from the district. This came after a proposal to regionalize—combining Littleton High School and Profile High School-- was rejected by voters in the Profile District.

In 2007, as the withdrawal neared, it became clear there would be a surplus at the end of the school year. SAU 35 planned to apply it to the next school year to offset Littleton's departure; Littleton wanted its portion of the money. Before leaving the district, however, the court noted Littleton made no provisions prior to developing its withdrawal plan concerning a surplus and found no statutory basis for SAU 84's claim to the money.

"In submitting its withdrawal plan to the state board and the voters, the petitioners represented it was making no claim to SAU 35 property," the court noted. SAU 35 remained ignorant of any possible claims for surplus money, the court found. Taking the 44.87 percent would be injurious to SAU 35, since it made plans to use the surplus to cover part of the budget for the following year without contradiction by SAU 84.

The Executive Board of SAU 35 was quite pleased by the result of the vote. During the board meeting at Profile School Monday night, Board Chair Tina Peabody said the $90,000 that had been placed in escrow could now be used for SAU 35 expenses, perhaps to give the districts tax relief next year.

Former Profile Board member Jim Payette said the ruling was very thorough legally with little "wiggle room."

SAU 84 concurred. SAU 84 Board Chair Milt Bratz said the board agreed Monday night not to appeal the ruling.

"We weren't getting much support from our attorney as far as how successful we'd be," Bratz said.

Martin Lord Osman
Tilton School
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