School improvements topic for March 1 RSU 73 budget meeting

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LIVERMORE FALLS — A nearly $6 million proposal to improve district buildings will be presented at a Regional School Unit 73 budget meeting Thursday, March 1.

It will begin at 6 p.m. in the Spruce Mountain Elementary School gym.

Buildings and Grounds Committee Chairman Douglas DiPasquale on Thursday night gave directors a report on improving district buildings, Superintendent Kenneth Healey said Friday.

“Proposed efficiencies and savings, at the elementary school especially, have the ability to make significant improvements,” Healey said. “It’s in dire need of a new heating system.”

Changes to the kitchen and several rooms at the elementary school, plus lighting upgrades and additional work in other buildings, are also proposed.

The cost is estimated at more than $5.8 million and annual energy savings are estimated is $110,000.

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“The presentation will be made again at the March 1 budget meeting,” Healey said. “That will be a good opportunity for the public to give input and have their budget questions answered.”

Directors unanimously ratified a three-year contract for secretaries and educational technicians Thursday night. Healey said Friday that the contract includes a 4 percent wage increase the first year, 3 percent the second year and 1 percent the third year.

For the first time, secretaries and educational technicians will receive group life insurance from the district.

“It equals one and a half times the amount of an employee’s annual salary,” Healey said. “That’s pretty consistent with other employees.”

The board unanimously approved a rural education research project by Maine native Jonathan Ruterbories, an undergraduate at St. Louis University in Missouri. 

“He’s here to help us,” Healey said. “He wants to understand rural education from a legal standpoint.”

Ruterbories will be in the area March 12-16 to observe classes and talk to community members and staff. There may be some verbal interaction with students but he won’t be interviewing them, Healey said.

“He’ll be in the community to get a really holistic picture of rural education here,” Healey said.

Ruterbories has been accepted as a rural law fellow at the University of Maine School of Law.

“After researching several school districts, I settled on Spruce Mountain to conduct a case study on a school district and rural Maine community as I believe it is the perfect district demographically and culturally,” Ruterbories wrote in a research summary.

He will present his findings at academic conferences and gatherings. The results will be sent to various academic journals for publishing.

The board tabled a decision on the 2018-19 school calendar. It was also advised that the accrediting team from New England Association of Schools and Colleges will visit March 25-28.

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