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Superintendent’s Weekly Report to the Regional School Unit 24 Board

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Upcoming Meetings (Note date and time change)


Dec. 14, 5:00 pm, SMHS Room 18, Finance Committee
5:30 pm, SMHS Room 19, Personnel Committee
6:30 pm, SMHS Cafeteria, RSU 24 Board meeting

Correction on Board Vote


Upon audit, the motion at this week’s Board meeting to approve pursuing next steps regarding a
school-based health clinic was defeated by a vote of 9,065 in favor and 10,250 against. It was
incorrectly announced at the meeting that the motion passed.

Wayne Enman, Interim Superintendent, to Start December 13th


Wayne will begin next week, and he will be spending time with me, Nelia and various
administrators to allow for a seamless transition of superintendent responsibilities. I am focusing on
loose ends that can be taken care of before my departure on the 23rd, and I will bring Wayne up-to-
date on items in which he will need to be involved. As much as possible, I will step back and assist
Wayne in areas that we agree will be most helpful.

Possible Motion to Endorse Football


The December 14th meeting is the 3rd session to include an agenda item on football, and the plan is
for the Board to either endorse or reject a high school football program for RSU 24. A possible
motion to consider might read
Move that the Regional School Unit 24 Board endorse football as a RSU high school sport
open to eligible students in both of our high schools and charge the Policy Committee to draft
appropriate policies for consideration that will provide for the cost of this sport to be covered
outside of the regular school budget.

Explanation of Possible Custodial Contract on Board Agenda


The custodians in Ellsworth are covered by their own contract previously negotiated by the
Ellsworth School Committee with AFSME. Six custodians at Peninsula, Mountain View and
Sumner are covered by the educational technician contract previously negotiated in the old School
Union 96 with the MEA. There are various complications in state law where one class of
employees, in this case custodians, is represented by two separate bargaining agents. With the
support of the Personnel Committee, the MEA is working with the former Union 96 custodians to
obtain their agreement to enter into a separate contract under the same terms and conditions as the
present educational technician contract. These will greatly simplify future negotiations, but will
require Board of Director approval.

High School Schedule


Both high schools have been reviewing their respective bell schedules and are in agreement that the
best schedule for student learning is a 7-period day with classes generally meeting daily. While the
schedules will not necessarily be identical at our two high schools, a daily schedule with roughly 50
minute periods will greatly increase the opportunity for sharing between the schools. There remain
graduation requirement differences, and EHS remains on a modified trimester schedule and Sumner
will stay on a semester schedule. I suggest that the 2011-12 priorities of the Educational
Programming Committee include a look at the graduation requirement differences and consider
changes. Concurrent with this work should be further review of the EHS trimester system, and
whether or not EHS should change to a semester schedule.
Filming Board Meeting
The December 14th board meeting will be filmed and viewable after the meeting on our website and
via DVD. This experience will be discussed at a future board meeting along with a determination
as to whether or not we want to continue this practice.

Update on Beech Hill School Issues


The RSU 24 Board has been clear,thus far, that the RSU will not be running the Beech Hill School
next year. The Mariaville selectmen have again inquired about this decision being reconsidered
should Mariaville purchase the school outright from Otis. I have indicated that I can not speak for
the Board but that there are at least three issues that make this less likely:
1. There has been a major drop in student enrollment in just one year. The school now has the
lowest student count among schools services RSU students, and the long-term viability of
school is far from certain.
2. RSU 24 can likely educate Mariaville students in other RSU schools at a cost significantly
less than the cost of continuing to operate the Beech Hill School.
3. We are still some weeks away from having a clear picture of the 2011-12 budget, and the
RSU Board has already indicated its reluctance to make any additional financial
commitments in this environment.
At this point, the Otis School Committee remains committed to operating the Beech Hill School for
the 2011-12 school year, and they have just begun to advertise for a principal/ superintendent to
lead the school and school district. Unclear is the make-up of programs and provider of central
office services. The level of programming will be influenced by whether or not RSU 24 will
support tuitioning Mariaville students to Beech Hill next year. The December 14th Board meeting
agenda includes consideration of this possibility. Below is further information on the dissolution
process.

Background on Dissolution Process


Last summer a dissolution committee was established to provide for the distribution of Beech Hill
School assets to complete the termination of the Union School Agreement between Otis and
Mariaville. Membership included Jen Cammack, Chair of the Otis School Committee, Randy
Bragg, RSU 24 Board member and Mariaville resident, Ray Poulin, representative of the
Department of Education, and me as superintendent. The Committee met five times, but was
unable to come to an agreement on an equitable formula for the distribution of assets, except that
we did agree that the value of the Beech Hill School, including all its contents, land and land
improvements, shall be allocated 57% for Otis and 43% for Mariaville. The last meeting of the
committee was on November 17, 2010 at which time the following motion carried on a 3 to 0 vote
with Ray Poulin abstaining: Move that we turn this matter over to the Commission of Education to
complete the dissolution process.

Meeting with Commissioner


On Tuesday, December 7th, from approximately 2:45 pm to 4:30 pm, the Dissolution Committee
met at the Department of Education in Augusta with Commissioner of Education Angela Faherty
and Sarah Forrester, Assistant Attorney General. The purpose of the meeting was for the
Commissioner to hear directly from Jen and Randy, to explore options and to seek common ground
for establishing the value of the Beech Hill School. The discussion was wide-ranging and explored
most all the options previously discussed in the Committee’s five meetings. In the end the only
agreement reached by all was that the Commissioner should set the asset value of the school, and
she plans to do just that as early as Thursday (12/16) of next week. The Assistant Attorney General
also made clear that while the Commissioner will establish a dollar amount, she has no enforcement
powers in regard to the dissolution. It will be up to the towns of Mariaville and Otis to accept,
renegotiate, ignore or take legal action to complete the dissolution process.