Rangeley makes plans to replace retiring principal

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RANGELEY — The School Board has begun the process of searching for a new superintendent so succeed Brian Foster, who said he plans to retire at the end of the school year.

One of Foster’s last duties will be to lead the search for a new principal. He announced at Tuesday’s school board meeting that Rangeley Lakes Regional School Principal Sherry Connally is retiring.

According to policy, the board is responsible for the search and hiring of the superintendent, while the superintendent is in charge of forming a committee of faculty, staff and others to find a new principal.

After discussing the relative merits of advertising the opening within the state of Maine, hiring a professional headhunter or posting the opening on national websites, the board voted to hold a special workshop on Jan. 16 to formalize the job description and qualifications. The board will vote on it at its next meeting Jan. 22, so the search can begin Feb. 1.

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Asked her reason for retirement, Connally said, “Thirty-nine years in public education. It seemed like time.”

Monica Gordon, the school’s director of transportation, reported to the board that the new handicap-access bus is in service. After noting that maintenance costs are high, even on the newer buses, she expressed confidence about the system’s flexibility. “This is the best shape we’ve been in. I’m very confident about most situations.”

Gordon said the road conditions in Magalloway Plantation, where the roads are frequently unplowed after heavy snows, is a problem. She said town roads are fine, but state roads are a big issue. Foster volunteered to contact the Maine DOT.

Foster said progress has been made with the school’s deed. He and board Chairman Pam Ellis met selectmen and approved the language that the selectmen will act on at their Jan. 15 meeting.

Spanish teacher Kate Philbrick said she is seeking donations to this spring’s Spanish exchange at a fundraising website called gofundme.com. She and some of her students have posted the site to their Facebook pages.

Student school board member Gabrielle Cavalier reported that high school students will perform in the Poetry Out Loud competition Friday, with the winner advancing to the state competition in Ellsworth for a possible shot at the nationals in Washington, D.C.

Foster reported he received a letter of thanks from Chip Smith at the Green Thumb, the company responsible for mowing in the summer and plowing and sanding in the winter. The two-year contract expires this year and the work must go out to bid again.

The superintendent has scheduled a meeting next week with the principal, the vice principal, the police chief and fire chief to go over the crisis response plan in light of the recent disaster at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The state Department of Education has issued a statement on curtailment of education funds, resulting in Rangeley losing approximately $15,000 from the state subsidy for Special Education. While Foster said he and the staff will look at possible purchase freezes to absorb the loss, Chris Farmer suggested transferring from some of the school’s other funds so students would not suffer.

Connolly reported that Augusta Orthopedics has invited school nurse Lindsey Savage to take part in a training program that will enable her to monitor and assess concussions during sporting events.

The course, which involves two classes a month for the rest of the year, comes at no cost to the school, but the board voted Savage a transportation allowance for the Augusta commute.

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