TURNER – SAD52 directors expressed frustration with their attorney’s reversal of opinion on the proper method of seeking voter approval for “substantial” renovations to the district offices.

Shortly after voting to close the troubled alternative education River Valley School for one year earlier this month, the board authorized Supt. Thomas Hanson and Attorney Peter Garcia to formulate a warrant article for the district budget vote in June seeking voter approval to renovate the building at 486 Turner Center Road which housed RVS, and still houses Adult Basic Education and the district offices.

That action was taken on Garcia’s opinion that such a vote on a separate warrant article would pass legal muster, according to Hanson.

Thursday, Hanson reported to the board that the district’s attorney had “changed his mind” and now recommends a separate referendum vote for Turner, Greene, and Leeds residents on the question, at a time and place not associated with, and totally separated from, the district vote on the budget. Hanson said that would most efficiently be accomplished, perhaps, during the general election voting in November, unless the board felt it should be done sooner.

Director Peter Ricker of Turner said he was “frustrated” and “disappointed” with the lawyer’s changing opinions, and “I feel the separate warrant article vote at budget time would have been proper.”

Board Chairman Elizabeth Bullard of Turner said she sensed “frustration” on the part of board members with the lawyer’s changing opinions, but suggested the board decide at its next meeting whether to conduct the vote in November or earlier.

Members then voted unanimously to do that, and gave continuing support to renovating what may be a historic building for strictly district offices. It had already been determined that when alternative education is restarted in the 2007-08 school year it will be at a different site, and Hanson told the board Thursday that he is looking into locating Adult Education at the “more appropriate” Leavitt Area High School site.

Members also discussed the fact the building has been a one-room, and later a two-room, schoolhouse, and historic preservation grants should be sought to aid in its renovation.

Hanson said he would be attending a start-up meeting of the Western Maine Education Cooperative on May 30 in Jay. The cooperative would be an effort on the part of more than 15 school superintendents to form a regional organization to more efficiently provide accounting, technology, transportation, alternative education, and other services in their respective departments. Hanson said

Districts would have until July 1 to join the cooperative. The cost to join would be $2 per student enrolled in the district, and an executive director would be hired to pursue grants for the cooperative.

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Darlene Burdin reported that one area the staff and board curriculum committee will be focusing on is students being pulled from regular classes. She reported that at least 15 reasons have been cited for students not attending a regularly scheduled class, including band, chorus, ESL training, reading recovery, health guidance, and many others.

Burdin said some students are missing two or even three regular classes a week, to take part in an activity or get special help or guidance. She said solutions to this problem could be ready for implementation in the coming school year.