Following withdrawal, dozens attend Limestone school committee meeting
LIMESTONE, Maine — Since Limestone voters overwhelmingly showed their support for leaving RSU 39 and officially withdrew last month, several members of the community have actively worked to ensure a smooth transition.
Limestone resident Kathie Beaulieu, who headed up the withdrawal committee, hosted a meeting on Dec. 4 in the Limestone Town Office to give residents an opportunity to volunteer to serve on a variety of committees related to the transition and operation of the town’s school.
Cars packed the parking lot and people crowded into the Limestone town office to see what they could do to help. Extra chairs were taken out as residents continued to pour into the meeting room in the minutes leading up to the 7 p.m. meeting.
Guests volunteered to serve on ten committees: governance, finance, administration, policies and procedures, operations, contracted services, staffing and educational programming, technology, and naming/renaming activities.
Beaulieu also clarified that committees, which are advisory in nature, are separate from boards, which have authority to make changes. Limestone’s selectboard recently voted to hold a special election for seats on Limestone’s new school board on Jan. 15.
The first committee, governance, will primarily be responsible for seating the board, hiring a superintendent, selecting a legal form, implementing a policy manual, appointing an auditor, and joining the Maine School Management Association for training, policy updates, and shared services.
Limestone residents pursued withdrawal last year after the majority of RSU 39 school board directors from the member communities of Caribou, Stockholm and Limestone, voted to send Limestone high school students to Caribou High school to help bridge a funding gap. While this decision helped RSU 39 significantly close a $1.4 million funding gap, it also caused many in Limestone to wonder about their representation on the board and to worry that the board majority might later also vote to close the Limestone Community School as well.
That’s when the successful withdrawal effort got underway. Now, as part of the transition, contracts for RSU 39 employees who spend over half of their time in Limestone are set to expire on July 31, at which point contracts for those employees will need to be renegotiated by officials in Limestone. Beaulieu said the administration committee could renegotiate these contracts, adding that RSU 39 administrators also have offered to help Limestone with this process.
Also on Tuesday, when discussion of changing the name of the town’s remaining Pre-K to 8 school was brought forward, everyone in attendance generally agreed that the school should keep “Limestone Community School” as its name, as it held this name before joining RSU 39.
After appointing chairs to each committee, the participants discussed when to hold their next meeting and ultimately agreed on Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Limestone Town Office.