Talks begin again for two school systems

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JAY — Jay and Regional School Unit 36 school officials met Thursday to begin talks to develop a plan to consolidate the two systems.

Jay School Superintendent Robert Wall and School Committee Chairwoman Mary Redmond-Luce, and RSU 36 Superintendent Judy Harvey and school board Chairman Ashley O’Brien plan to meet again to go over how they will get a regional planning committee together and what it would like, Redmond Luce said during Thursday’s meeting of the Jay School Committee.

It is clear from the community surveys returned last year on school consolidation that the public wants something to happen and they want to be involved, she said.

Both school boards have agreed to try again to develop a plan that would benefit students and taxpayers between the neighboring towns of Jay, Livermore Falls and Livermore.

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The first plan was rejected a year ago by voters in all three towns.

The plan could either be a reorganizational consolidation structure or an alternative organizational structure for the school systems.

A regional school unit is a combination of two or more municipalities who pool all their educational resources to educate all students, according to the Maine Department of Education Web site.  There would be one School Committee comprised of representatives from each of the municipalities that administers the education of grades kindergarten through 12 through a superintendent of schools. Budget approval is by majority vote of those present and voting at a district budget meeting followed by approval at referendum. The member municipalities share the RSU costs based on a formula that includes state valuation and/or number of pupils.

An alternative organizational structure is a combination of two or more school administrative units to provide administrative and sometimes educational services, according to the Web site. Administrative services provided by the alternative organizational structure are system administration, a superintendent and the superintendent’s office, special education administration, transportation administration and the business functions of accounting, reporting, payroll, financial management, purchases and audit.  

Wall presented a checklist of information that needs to collected in order for taxpayers to vote on a proposal, he said.

“A lot of these things may not be necessary to come to a complete plan but all of them are essential,” he said.

The components he sees as necessary include plans for finances, teaching and learning, administrative leadership, system administration, facilities’ maintenance, technology, sports and activities, transportation, special education, personnel staffing and certified and hourly contracts, and legal framework governance.

“I feel very confidently that you folks have given me the green light that we want to go back to the table … and do it with community members,” Redmond-Luce told the board.

She is advocating to not only form a regional planning committee but to have subgroups that community and staff members from each town and system could work on, she said.

She also wants to make sure the planning process is done in public so that the community is informed about what is going on, Redmond-Luce said.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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