17 years ago

 PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – Recognizing that the state’s plan to regionalize school administrations “changes daily,” SAD 1 Superintendent Gehrig Johnson told school board members last Wednesday night they have to wait and see how the plan will unfold.
    “They’re going to come up with something,” he said, “we just don’t know when. I’m sure we’ll get something though.”
Johnson circulated a document prepared by the Coalition of Maine Education Association, Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Maine Municipal Association, Maine Hospital Association, and the Maine Service Center Coalition that outlines the objectives of the Education Committee.
The Education Committee’s plan, which is different from Gov. John E. Baldacci’s earlier proposal, would establish 26 “Regional Planning Alliances” based on existing vocational regions already in statute. Current groups that are already working on consolidation would be granted planning alliance status.
According to the document, the Education Committee’s plan would require each Regional Planning Alliance to submit a plan by March 1, 2008 to cut non-instructional costs in 2008-09 by 10 percent. The Maine Department of Education estimates this would save approximately $60 million on a statewide basis.
Other points outlined in the plan include:
• By July 1, 2008, each Regional Planning Alliance would be required to submit plans to consolidate all current school units below 1,200 students. Currently, 234 school units in Maine, or 82 percent, have less than 1,200 students.
• By July 1, 2008, every school unit in Maine would be required to participate in a shared service collaborative to cut 2008-09 costs for purchasing, payroll, transportation, building maintenance, and special education.
• Require referendum votes on school consolidation plans for all school units below 1,200 students on Nov. 4, 2008.
• Establishes financial incentives and financial penalties to ensure that consolidation takes place.
• Removes statutory barriers to consolidation in the areas of shared services, cost sharing formulas, and school construction procedures.
• Authorizes contracting for administrative services in small school units.
Johnson said the document provided is “already outdated.” He shared an e-mail he recently received noting that the Education Committee’s original plan has already been revised by a segment of that group “to advocate for minimum size districts of 2,500 students, consolidation beginning prior to collaboration, and a required 7 percent savings for non-instructional costs.”
“Because the plan changes daily, we’re not sure how much of this document is pertinent,” said Johnson. “Unfortunately, they didn’t list any directives or protocol. Procedures aren’t given, so we don’t quite know what a lot of this means.”
The superintendent said he would keep the board updated on changes to the regionalization/consolidation plan.
In other news, Charles Anderson, SAD 1’s business administrator, shared with directors the impact the district has seen in increased electricity rates.
“SAD 1 has seen the impact of the Jan. 1, 2007 rate increases in its electric bills,” said Anderson. “Many of our locations are classified for rate purposes as ‘residential/small commercial.’ For those locations, the supplier cost per kilowatt-hour has increased 44.5 percent.
“For our largest users (Mapleton, Presque Isle High School, Presque Isle Middle School and Zippel), classified as ‘medium/non-residential,’ the supplier cost has increased 53.3 percent,” he said. “The delivery portion of each bill has remained nearly unchanged.”
Anderson explained that the average daily increase is 27 percent for the first two months of the calendar year.
“For the last six months of the current fiscal year basis, we project total additional expense of roughly $32,000,” he said. “For the full year, our total expense for electricity should be about $270,000 or about $5,000 more than we budgeted.
“For the next fiscal year, we are looking at an additional supplier increase of 4.5 percent for ‘residential/small commercial’ locations and 7.1 percent for ‘medium/non-residential’ locations,” said Anderson. “We will budget accordingly.”
A number of teachers have completed one year of satisfactory teaching in the district and were reappointed for the 2007-08 school year. At Presque Isle High School, they include Margaret Bujold (Spanish) and Linda Kelly (school nurse); Erin Argraves (ag science) at the Presque Isle Regional Career and Technical Center; Jennifer Espling (pre-kindergarten/Title 1 reading) at Pine Street Elementary School; and Christi Doyen (grade five), Angela Kelley (grade four), Lisa Rubin (special education) and Jennifer Espling (Title 1 reading) at Zippel Elementary School.
The following teachers have completed two years of satisfactory teaching and were reappointed for the 2007-08 school year to a continuing contract: Christopher Power (science), Zachary Powers (social studies), Pamela Willette (English), Sharon Craig (special education/resource room) and James York (social studies) at Presque Isle High School; Rhonda Tweed (kindergarten) at Pine Street Elementary School; Valerie Black (special education/resource room), Louise Carroll (speech) and Rebecca Langille (grade one) at Mapleton Elementary School; and Gail Hagelstein (library media specialist) and Casey Johnson (special education/resource room) at Presque Isle Middle School.
Also at last week’s SAD 1 meeting, directors:
• Accepted the resignation of Lorna Tobin, a fourth-grade teacher at Mapleton Elementary School, who will be retiring at the end of the school year.
• Adopted the 2007-08 school calendar, which, according to Johnson, is “very similar to the one we’re following now.”
• Voted to enter into a lease-purchase agreement with Key Government Finance, Inc. for field turf at the Dr. Gehrig T. Johnson Athletic Complex at Presque Isle Middle School. The purchase price for the artificial turf is $520,227, and the interest rate will be 4.6 percent over 10 years.
The next SAD 1 board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 25 in the board conference room at Presque Isle High School.