School choice to remain the same

LIVERMORE FALLS — RSU 73 directors nixed superintendents putting together a proposal outlining how students could have an open choice of what high school campus to attend.

Currently students could take a course at either the Jay High School or the Livermore Falls High School and then return to their home school for other classes.

Some already opt to take all the classes at one school or the other. It is done on a case by case basis, Superintendent Bob Wall said.

Beginning July 1, the two high schools will become one with campuses in Jay and Livermore Falls.

The vote was 3-7 against asking the superintendents to draw up guidelines on school choice.

Jay Directors Dan DiPompo, Mike Morrell and Tammy Dwinal-Shufelt favored having the proposal be developed and presented at a meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 23, at Cedar Street Learning Center.

Opposed were Jay Directors Darcie Comstock and Vicki McLeod, Livermore Director Tim Madden, and Livermore Falls Directors Denise Rodzen, Tammy Frost, Jackie Knight and Ann Souther.

Prior to the vote, McLeod said she had several issues of allowing students to choose high schools, including how often they could change schools, how it would affect grade point averages and how it would affect staffing.

“I’d like to leave it alone for another year,” she said.

“We know it has issues,” Wall said. “We know it has staff implications. We know it has student implications. Right now we have some school choice.”

He said it is a concept that should be explored to benefit students.

“We have strengths at both places,” Wall said.

Knight and Souther also said they agreed that it should be left alone for the coming year.

Dwinal-Shufelt said that they will be one regional school unit and what is there to stop students from choosing the campus of their choice.

Frost said she believed there was too small of a time frame since school was over this week and students would be gone.

“I think they should have a choice. We’re supposed to be getting rid of town lines,” DiPompo said.

Next school year, the two campuses will each have a valedictorian, a yearbook and graduation ceremony. They will also each have the top 10 students. Administrators still need to work out how that will be done and how students will join together the following year to see who would be the top 10 in the graduating class.

In another matter, the board voted 6-3 to approve a request for a one-year leave of absence submitted by Amanda Pelkey, a Livermore Falls High School family and consumer science teacher, which many years ago was known as home economics. She is the only teacher of that course between the two high schools.

She would like to spend time with her newborn baby, Pelkey said.

Some directors voiced concerns over saving a teaching position for one year, especially in the job market, and setting precedent.

It is not normally done, Wall said.

“We don’t usually hold jobs for people,” he said.

However, Chairman Rodzen said that RSU 36 has done it in the past a few times.

She understands the request, Rodzen said, but she didn’t know if it was fair to hold the position for a year.

Pelkey would not be paid while on leave.

Pelkey said the reason she asked for the leave of absence rather than quitting her job was because family and consumer science teachers are hard to find.

The last district she left, Pelkey said, lost their program because they could not find another teacher.

This way this district could still have the program, she said.

Opposed to the leave of absence were McLeod, Rodzen and Souther.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Really??

5 months after the vote, 2 1/2 months before school starts, 0ver 1 month since students picked classes for next year and this is the discussion we are having? Instead of following the recommended plan, we had to push forward and "consolidate" the high schools. All we have done is consolidate athletics at the high schools. This is exactly the type of discussion that should have taken place when we opted to deviate from the plan.

I'm sure the logistics of busing students back and forth all day long would be difficult and expensive, but are we really just considering this now? If we decided to do it, would we revisit the process of choosing classes?

The article claims, "Next school year, the two campuses will each have a valedictorian, a yearbook and graduation ceremony. They will also each have the top 10 students." How about two homecomings? Two Proms? Maybe we can have two sports teams, you know, Spruce Mountain North Campus Phonenix and the Spruce Mountain South Campus Phoneix. I hope there are two drama groups, two math teams, two bands, two choruses and two of anything else that would further divide the two schools. Let's divide students as much as possible and then put them on the field/court together.

I'm not opposed to consolidation, in fact, I voted for it. At the time, I was under the impression that the recommendations made would be presented to the new board for consideration. What happened, almost immediately following the vote, was complete disregard for the people who worked so hard to build a plan. Decisions were made prior to the new board being elected and we tried to fast track some other changes. As a result, I'm guessing we have not given enough time to aligning curriculum at the Elementary school to the "new" middle school curriculum (which we haven't developed yet).

This process is in dire need of strong, forward looking leadership.

 's picture

We have been let to believe

We have been let to believe that the high school building in Livermore Falls would be closed after this next year because they had a big gov't grant that they wanted the chance to use up. Are they now leaning towards keeping that building open? Will the deception never end? That the supers would want to set up a program that would let students choose what building they want to attend would leave the impression that is what is going on.

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