School board votes after the fact to submit letter on consolidation

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LIVERMORE FALLS — Regional School Unit 36 directors voted unanimously Thursday to submit a letter to the Maine Department of Education to enter talks with Jay School Department on consolidation the two systems.

 Prior to the vote, Chairman Ashley O’Brien said the letter was already submitted to the commissioner earlier in the day.

 The board never officially took a vote this year to re-enter talks with Jay about consolidation. In February, each of the 13 members voiced their opinions on the issue but never voted on it. Twelve of the board members favored consolidation if it was done right, while Director Rod Newman of Livermore opposed it due to concerns over cost sharing.

 O’Brien said after Thursday’s meeting that concern was expressed Wednesday during a joint meeting with Jay School Committee and that it would be much better to get a letter of intent to Maine Department of Education Commissioner Susan Gendron as soon as possible, as it would likely take quite some time for the acting commissioner to get up to speed. Gendron is leaving her position Friday.

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 “The time lost with a letter awaiting a signature is time that can’t be spent talking about the issues of consolidation of our two districts,” O’Brien said. “The consensus of the seven RSU 36 board members there (Wednesday) evening was to submit that letter today and ratify that submission at tonight’s meeting. Although those seven members did not, nor could not vote last night, it was apparent that submitting the letter ASAP was their wish,” he said.

 Jay School Committee members had previously voted to move forward with RSU 36 to try to put a second plan together. Voters in Jay, Livermore Falls and Livermore rejected a consolidation plan in 2009.

 A timeline presented at Wednesday’s night’s joint board meeting listed consolidation as of July 1, 2011.

 In other business Thursday, the board voted to open the high school principal search to in-house candidates and have a committee set up by next week to review the candidates. The hope is to have a candidate to put forward for the Thursday, May 13, meeting.

 Prior to making the decision, Superintendent Judith Harvey said they would set up a committee that would include faculty and a community member. She didn’t know what size the committee would be or who would be on it, she said.

 Harvey told the board they had two choices.

 They could either take in-house candidates separately and first before they go outside the district for a greater search. Or they could take in-house candidates along with those from outside the district at the same time.

 Directors Rod Newman of Livermore and Denise Rodzen of Livermore Falls spoke in favor of going first with in-house candidates, and if it didn’t work out they could expand the search.

 Harvey said there is already information on file on in-house candidates who may apply, and the key would be to get a list of questions together to ask each candidate.

 In other business, directors accepted high school Principal Shawn Lambert’s resignation with regret. His resignation is effective June 30. He has taken a job as a director of the Oxford Hills Technical School in Paris.

 The board also voted to go into executive session to receive advice from legal counsel in regards to a potential grievance.

 dperry@sunjournal.com

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