RSU 73 board reviews gun threat response

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LIVERMORE FALLS — Regional School Unit 73 Superintendent Kenneth Healey and the board members Thursday commended staff, administration, students and police for their handling of a gun threat Sept. 6 at Spruce Mountain Middle School in Jay.

A 9-year-old Livermore Falls girl was issued a summons on a charge of creating a false public alarm, according to police. She contacted the school saying there was a person with a gun at the school. It turned out to be a hoax, but the middle school, Spruce Mountain Elementary School and Spruce Mountain High School in Jay were locked down as police responded.

“We had some training on the 28th that couldn’t have been more timely for our staff,” Healey said at Thursday night’s board meeting. “Our staff, our students, they conducted themselves so well.”

“Through the training and the safety meetings we’ve been doing, RSU 73 is by far ahead of many schools in Maine,” Jay Police Chief Richard Caton IV said.

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Healey said that Tuesday, a detailed discussion took place among all RSU 73 staff reviewing safety procedures. He noted that parents had been critical of the school district for not giving them more information about what was taking place.

“My first priority is to protect kids’ lives,” he said. “If I was to do otherwise, it would not be the right thing for our kids.”

Board Chairman Denise Rodzen said by not letting anyone into or out of the school, police were doing their job and keeping students and staff safe.

Healey said he would not give out false information just for the sake of appearing transparent.

“My goal will always be to provide accurate information as soon as the situation is resolved,” he said.

In other business, the board discussed and approved a new assistant transportation director’s job description and position. The district will advertise for it in the next few weeks.

The job description said the assistant transportation director will be readily available in a supervisory role at the bus garage and will report to the director of transportation and the superintendent. The individual could assign bus routes, assign buses in case one broke down, assist with maintenance where needed, and help with other tasks.

No money would be added to the budget, Healey said, because there is an open position within the maintenance department. He said that position would be eliminated to make way for the assistant transportation director.

The salary is not known yet.

Board member Doug DiPasquale questioned whether the job description should have gone through the school board’s Transportation Committee.

Rodzen said Transportation Director Ken Vining had the knowledge and expertise to set the job description.

“If Ken had the need during the budget season, it should have come up during the budget season,” DiPasquale said. “If he didn’t have the need then, why the need now?”

Board member Joel Pike said he was concerned that “we’re coming back after we did the budget … I don’t disagree that you may need this, it’s just the timing.”

Vining emphasized that no one working in maintenance would lose their job because the new position was being added.

“I’ve heard backlash about budgeting and being too heavy in administration,” board member Dale Leblanc said. “Other departments in the schools are complaining.”

The vote in favor of the position was 10-2, with DiPasquale and Pike opposed.

bmatulaitis@sunmediagroup.net

RSU 73 Superintendent’s Office

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