Keenan gives presentation on school reorganization

17 years ago

School meeting
The Easton School Board and the Easton Town Council invited the citizens of Easton to an informational meeting on Monday evening, August 27, at the Easton Elementary School gym. The purpose of the meeting was to provide more information on the mandated school regionalization and consolidation process.  Superintendent Frank Keenan certainly has earned his salary in the past few months and, as before, laid all aspects of this plan before the 60 or more people gathered. 

Keenan informed the group that three intents had been sent in to the Commissioner of Education as required. They were that Easton could combine with (1) Mars Hill and Blaine and Fort Fairfield; or join (2) Mars Hill, Blaine, Bridgewater, Fort Fairfield and Perham, Wade and Washburn; or go into (3) Mars Hill, Blaine, Bridgewater, Perham, Wade and Washburn. He explained that combining with any one of these groups would be financially fine with Easton because the cost per pupil in Easton is high, due to the low number of students, so to even it all out fairly the other school districts would have to take up more of the cost, and that would mean either Mars Hill, Fort Fairfield or Washburn, whichever district Easton joined, would have to pay thousands of dollars more to accommodate Easton students.
Printed material was available and he also had a video presentation of some of the material that was on the papers with an explanation of what it all  it meant. The School Board of each town would be disbanded and a regional board picked. Easton has already picked a Regional Planning Committee and they are: Mike Corey, from the Town Council; Tom Osgood, from the School Board; Norman Trask, as a community member; and Keenan, as a liaison and support person.
Keenan explained that the town must hold a referendum vote by December 2008, not on whether we can reorganize but who we will organize with. If no one wants to accept Easton because of the extra cost or for some other reason then perhaps we can be granted an exception, said Keenan.
He explained the impact at this time for Easton schools if consolidated. The positives would be a short-term savings by having costs shift to other towns, possible access to resources in other districts that Easton doesn’t have and to avoid a financial penalty from the state in 2009. The negatives would be the loss of local control, the loss of budget control at the 9-12 grade level and being locked into a regional school unit. This means if it wasn’t working there is no way Easton can withdraw, ever. Being such a small school, Easton would not have much say in what goes on.
Keenan read part of a letter that was printed in the Ellsworth American stating that there was no way that there would be any savings, especially not for the larger school units in the reorganization and not for the state either. It suggested that this mandated law should be repealed and that if it wasn’t, the towns and cities should just say, “No”.
There was another letter from a Stonington man, Lawrence “Skip” Greenlaw, that was printed in the Bangor Daily News on August 22, stating that all the towns and cities should make an effort to have this law repealed and that he was willing to start a petition if responders from other towns would let him know that they are willing to work for a referendum vote on this. He wants to get the petition drafted quickly and would like over 100,000 signatures so that the governor and legislature will see that the people of Maine are really unhappy with this plan. The group gathered at the Easton school were willing to work with him on this.
There were very few questions as Keenan was very clear in his presentations. In the August 29 Presque Isle Star-Herald there is a letter from Rep. Henry Joy stating that this mandate is not legal and it is against the Maine Constitution for the governor to do this. What next? Is he going to mandate a “no hamburger or cake” law to keep us from getting fat? He already has plans to take over the jails and prisons, I understand.
Helen King, and Oscar and Joyce Trask drove to Portland with John and Nina Trask to attend the funeral of their brother, Harry Trask, of Lyman. They spent the night with Larry and Barbara Barnes, also of Lyman, who were good neighbors of Harry and Edna. I’m sorry that I inadvertently left Oscar’s name as a surviving brother out of the write-up last week on Harry’s passing. Harry was a very busy man in the area of agriculture. He retired to Lyman in 1980 and became a private consultant working with Maine officials to align their regulations with federal rules for cleaning and disposing of insecticide containers. He also helped develop a system for farmers to clean containers before returning them. He enjoyed fishing and was part owner in some fishing camps on Carr Pond in northern Maine and went there regularly with family and friends. Once a year he would host a family reunion so that all of the family could be with him and Edna for a great time. He will be missed.
Kerry Bartlett of Oakfield spent an hour visiting with old friends, Clair and Eldora Carter, last Tuesday.  He was in Easton to help do some repairs to the railroad lines.
I spoke with Caroline Mahany on August 27 and she told me that her sister, Barbara Mahany, who is very ill in the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, is showing just a small bit of progress. She has Guillain Barre Syndrom and is told that it will take a long time to recover but recover she will.
George Wipperman is also a patient at the Eastern Maine Medical Center after being involved in a head-on collision Saturday, August 25, on the Centerline Road. Two children in the other vehicle were also transported to Bangor and the Eastern Maine Medical Center. A driving rain was believed to be the cause of the accident.