SAD 9 to explore prekindergarten program

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FARMINGTON – The SAD 9 Board of Directors voted to explore the implementation of of a prekindergarten or 4-year-old program Tuesday.

A study committee, headed by Assistant Superintendent Susan Pratt, will be a collaborative effort by SAD 9 employees, community members, the University of Maine at Farmington and other interested parties.

“I anticipate this may take us most of the coming year,” said Pratt, referring to the study.

While data was presented to support the program, some directors were skeptical.

“I feel strongly that 4-year-olds should be in the home,” said Bob Flick of Farmington. He questioned the validity of the data.

“That’s the point of the study committee,” Pratt responded. She assured Flick and others that the committee would address both negative and positive aspects of the potential program so the board could make an informed decision regarding implementation.

As has become the norm at SAD 9 directors meetings, school consolidation was discussed at length.

Superintendent Michael Cormier had promised the board financial data relating to potential consolidation scenarios.

However, Cormier said he was not confident in the data he had received from the state.

“I am not comfortable giving you the data tonight because I am not sure of its accuracy,” he said. He was comfortable enough to assure the board that, “this is going to save the state of Maine money.”

Based on the data he had, with various consolidation scenarios involving different combinations of SAD 9, SAD 58, School Union 36 in Rangeley, Carrabassett Valley and Coplin Plantation, Cormier determined that while communities would have to raise less money to receive their financial match from the state, they would also be receiving less money. The difference would have to made up by cutting programs or finding other revenue.

Cormier reiterated several times that this was his interpretation of what he deemed incomplete data.

“I lack real confidence in what I have for information,” he said.

Many directors were frustrated by this.

“They are forcing us into a corner,” Flick said. He attempted to revive a motion, tabled at the preceding directors’ meeting, to formally ask SAD 58 to consolidate. “They are a like district, with similar aspirations,” he said. “If they don’t want to join with us, we should know now.”

Directors narrowly voted to let the motion die.

Chairman Ray Glass then proposed an alternative course of action. He suggested requesting that the state allow SAD 9 to remain as is but consolidate services and form logical collaborations with nearby districts where synergy seems to make sense. “I wonder how much we can push the state to consider our way of doing it,” he said.

In other business, directors approved the appointment of Dr. John Hickey to be the district physician for the 2007-08 school year. They also unanimously carried a motion to approve a $1 million tax reserve anticipation note to cover expenses until town assessments are paid.

The SAD 9 board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Aug. 14 in the Mt. Blue High School Library.

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