‘Consolidation Corner’

Steve Fitzpatrick / Bob McDaniel, Special to The County
14 years ago

Driven by Maine’s Consolidation law, MSAD 29 and MSAD 70 are engaged with a Regional Planning Committee (RPC) to develop a plan to consolidate Central Office services between the two districts. This effort began in January of 2010 after MSAD 70 requested of RSU 29 to enter into discussion about the possibility of joining forces. MSAD 29 is a conforming RSU because its “Alternative Plan” to stand-alone was approved by the Department of Education in 2009. MSAD 70 is a non-conforming RSU meaning it does not have an approved plan and is subject to the penalties enacted in the law.
While MSAD 70 does have the ability to talk with other regional districts to develop a plan they requested to engage with RSU 29 because of it’s proximity and the natural interconnectedness with RSU 29, in fact both districts currently engage in an interschool hockey program — the Houlton/Hodgdon Black Hawks. The potential consolidation of these two districts has been a constant source of discussion between the communities for many years and the RPC is a formal attempt to development a plan intended to stabilize educational programming in this area, to improve programming for all students and to generate efficiencies/cost savings by virtue of “economy of scale” (becoming larger and reducing redundancy).
The RPC includes members from both MSAD/RSU 29 and 70 school boards, municipal officials, and community members. They have met on six or more occasions, to date, to construct the plan. The work of developing the total plan is being completed through targeted sub – committees around the following: Educational programming, Cost-Sharing, Assets & Liabilities, Administrative reorganization, Facilities, and Communication.
The process has generated excellent and positive discussion around the potential to improve programming while at the same time controlling, redirecting and reducing redundancy in terms of our collective resources. The philosophy and agreement going forward is at-worst hold each district harmless in terms of cost- shifts between the two Districts…and at best realize cost saving and improve student programming for all students. The Committee has been working with Drummond and Woodsum the State’s premiere school law entity as well as Gerald Clockedile, former State DOE consultant and School Finance expert. His experience in working with Districts who have successfully consolidated was that many unanticipated cost-savings were realized and redirected to impact quality of programs for students…it may be that MSAD 29 and 70 ‘s time to consolidate is at hand.
Steve Fitzpatrick is superintendent of SAD/RSU 29. Bob McDaniel is superintendent of SAD 70.