RSU 16 extends contract for controversal superintendent

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POLAND — The RSU 16 board extended Superintendent Tina Meserve’s contract Monday during the same meeting in which a crowd of parents and community members said they were unhappy with her.

Board members voted unanimously Monday night to extend Meserve’s contract by three years. Her current contract was not up until next summer, but board Chairwoman Mary Martin said Tuesday that extensions are not unusual in the school system and this is typically the time of year when they’re done.

Meserve has served as superintendent for Poland, Minot and Mechanic Falls for four years. Martin said Meserve received an extension in the past and the board decided to do one now after the school system’s “pretty comprehensive evaluation process” for the superintendent.

“That was a unanimous vote by our board in support of our superintendent,” Martin said.

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Meserve said Tuesday that superintendents in the area generally have three- to five-year contracts.

The contract extension came after about 100 people showed up at Monday’s School Board meeting, many of them angry about the superintendent’s performance and a consultant’s review of complaints against her. Several people  took issue with the fact the consultant’s report was verbal, presented to the board behind closed doors and with nothing in writing to support the board’s claim that the review was positive.

Martin said Tuesday that the board did not ask for a written report because it didn’t feel it needed one.

“What we asked her to do, she did,” she said. “We’re satisfied with the report we got. We felt it was thorough and that it was well done.”

Martin said the school system has solicited similar reviews on people or situations in the past, but she could not say whether those reports were usually written or verbal.

“I was not a part of the board when that happened, so I really can’t answer that. I don’t know,” she said. “The one I believe happened was in between the year that I retired (as principal in the system) and when I joined the school board.”

The board Monday night also approved new two-year contracts for the school system’s nine administrators, including school principals, assistant principals, athletic director and special education director.

Administrators will receive 1.5 to 4 percent pay increases the first year and 2 to 3 percent increases the second year, with the specific amount based on how close the administrator’s current salary is to the area average.

The new contract also increases administrators’ health insurance contribution by 1 to 2 percent to match what teachers pay. For single coverage, for example, administrators will now pay 12 percent, up from 10 percent.

Also at the Monday meeting, the School Board officially signed the tax assessments warrant for each town. Because RSU 16 is getting more money than planned from the state, residents will see smaller-than-expected property tax increases.

In the budget approved by lawmakers this summer, RSU 16 will get about $530,000 more than expected.

Forty percent of that extra funding is slated for property tax relief.

For a $100,000 home in Poland, that means a tax increase of $18.60 rather than an increase of $41.78, according to the superintendent’s office.

For a $100,000 home in Minot, that means an increase of $75.60 rather than an increase of $104.41.

For a $100,000 home in Mechanic Falls, that means a tax increase of $43.03 rather than an increase of $72.59.

Voters had agreed this summer to spend 30 percent of any extra funding on education.

During the Monday night meeting, Meserve updated the board on where that money will be spent, including: a social worker/guidance position at Elm Street School in Mechanic Falls; an ed tech for students with behavioral issues at Bruce M. Whittier Middle School in Poland; systemwide professional development; school supplies and family engagement activities.

The remaining 30 percent will go to the school system’s capital improvement fund for emergencies.

“We’re pretty dangerously low on how much there is for unexpected situations,” Meserve said Tuesday.

ltice@sunjournal.com

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