MSAD 1 board OKs new PIMS principal, sharing contract

6 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Maine School Administrative District 1 board of directors approved continuing a superintendent services sharing contract with MSAD 45 in Washburn Wednesday, along with additional services covered under an addendum to the contract.

The MSAD 1 board also named Presque Isle Middle School Assistant Principal Barbara Bartlett as the new middle school principal, to replace retiring Principal Anne Blanchard. The assistant principal position will not be filled at this time, according to superintendent Brian Carpenter.  

The contract approved by MSAD 1 with MSAD 45 covers three years, with a 90 day exit clause, and will see MSAD 45 pay MSAD 1 $63,000 annually, with increases to $64,575 in 2020 and $66,190 in 2021.

The MSAD 45 board also approved continuing the contract, which started in the 2016-2017 school year.

The MSAD 1 board approved the contract with the condition that the board annually review an addendum to the contract that covers the sharing of special education and information technology programs. Under the agreement, MSAD 45 pays MSAD 1 $85 per student for IT services and for two days a week of work from the MSAD 1 special education director.

Some of the board members raised concerns about whether the sharing of special ed and IT services with MSAD 45 was slowing down services to MSAD 1 students.

For instance, the IT services team spent more time than expected working with MSAD 45 on the addition of new standardized testing software, Carpenter said.

The services sharing arrangement comes amid Maine Department of Education efforts to encourage school districts to collaborate as a way to reduce overall school administrative costs. A $165,000 education efficiency grant that expires at the end of the year covered the costs for MSAD 45 to receive IT and special education from MSAD 1.

Assistant Superintendent Clint Deschene said at the meeting that services sharing among school districts is relatively new territory for school managers so no one is doing it well yet.

“It gets into these debates of who’s winning and who’s losing,” he said. “The reality is the winner is our students because we’re leveraging resources over a larger group.”

It remains to be seen if Maine’s next governor provides more funding for rural school districts, or continues advocating for school districts to share services or consolidate. For now, school districts continue to face the challenges of rising costs and pressure from local communities to not raise property taxes.

“The idea is to stretch ourselves as thin as we can without breaking,” Deschene said about services sharing. “Every month we learn more about what works and what doesn’t work.”

The board meets again in December and will likely discuss next steps following the failure of the $15 million bond referendum to pay for a right-sizing project that would have involved closing both elementary schools and renovating Presque Isle middle school to accommodate all K-8 students..