Chief doubts Baldacci’s proposal

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RUMFORD – SAD 43 Superintendent Jim Hodgkin believes something must happen to curb educational costs, but he thinks the proposal by Gov. John E. Baldacci is very dramatic.

A full-fledged discussion on the impact of the governor’s proposal to try to reduce the number of school districts in Maine from 152 to 26 statewide won’t happen until the school board meets Jan. 22.

But on today, the topic came up early in the meeting.

And on Tuesday, Maine Department of Education Commissioner Susan Gendron will be broadcasting an interactive presentation at Mountain Valley High School that should further explain the governor’s plan. That broadcast takes place at 3 p.m. in the school’s ATM room.

“The timeline for implementation is aggressive,” said Hodgkin. “The plan is to have each regional school board hire a superintendent by October of this year.”

According to the governor’s proposal, the Rumford area school district, named Region 20, would include SAD 43, SAD 44 in Bethel and SAD 21 in Dixfield, with a total of 20 towns and unorganized townships, and about 3,500 students.

The proposal, said Hodgkin, encompasses some areas with fewer than 3,500 students, and some, such as Portland and Lewiston, that have many thousands of students.

“We could easily reduce the number of superintendents, but nowhere near 26,” he said.

He also plans to discuss the proposed redistricting with state Sen. Bruce Bryant, D-Dixfield, to get a sense on a number of issues surrounding the proposal, including whether it would really save money or add another layer of administration.

A more in-depth discussion of the proposal will be included in the meeting that begins at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22. In the meantime, Hodgkin encouraged board members and others to attend Tuesday’s program by Gendron.

In other matters Monday, Trudi Cormier was appointed to the position of educational technician II at Mountain Valley Middle School and BriAnna Touchette was hired as assistant ski coach at the high school.

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