RSU 58 board faces staffing and funding challenges

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PHILLIPS — In their first meeting of the 2018-19 school year Thursday evening, Regional School Unit 58 directors faced new challenges in staffing and funding.

The board approved of Superintendent Susan Pratt advertising for an assistant principal and an athletic director.

Tina Brackley, the assistant principal and athletic director, resigned recently, as did Mt. Abram High School secretary Lisa Brackley.

The board agreed to have Pratt interview candidates for a combined assistant principal-athletic director position and candidates for only the athletic director’s position.

Sports programs start soon, and Pratt said she was concerned about the number of qualified candidates who would be available with only a month left in the summer recess.

The board decided to delay advertising for the high school secretary position.

Pratt told the board the Maine Department of Education’s Revolving Loan program has allowed the district to complete required upgrades to Mt. Abram High School’s air quality and the Phillips Elementary School’s improvements for handicapped accessibility.

Pratt also explained this year’s cut of $12,500 in the Title 1 budget, which pays for three reading recovery teachers and an interventionist. The Title 2 program has been cut by $1,700. The funding has been reduced simply because of declining student enrollment, according to Pratt. The good news: The Title 2 budget has money remaining, and the money can be transferred to the Title 1 account.

“We are allowed (to do this) and historically have done this,” Pratt said. “Title money has supported our district a lot over time.”

The remaining 15 percent will come from the 2018-19 budget.

In other matters, Karen Beacham was approved as a K-12 music teacher. Beacham has worked for Regional School Unit 9 for 16 years and also performs as a professional musician. Jessica Merrill was approved as the new secretary for the Strong Elementary School. Kathy Howard will be the new secretary at Phillips Elementary School. Howard has been a bus driver for the district since 1983.

Pratt also recommended school lunch prices stay the same. According to Pratt, she sent 47 letters recently to parents and guardians who owe more than $200 for their childrens’ lunch costs. The district is forced into the position of being a debt collector, she said, rather than denying a child a meal.

The board also welcomed new directors Chastity Hill and Steve Hagerstrom, both Strong, and Sharon Dudley of Phillips. Kim Jordan of Kingfield agreed to continue as chairwoman, and Julie Talmage, also of Kingfield, will serve as vice chairwoman.

 

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