JAY – A regional planning committee charged with developing a plan to consolidate Jay and Regional School Unit 36 school systems voted Tuesday to have superintendents draft a plan to review Sept. 21.

The action follows many hours of work by various subcommittees and the planning committee throughout the summer.

A newsletter was sent home with students to present facts on what has been accomplished so far.

All information of what has been accomplished so far and future meetings is available on the districts’ websites: www.jayschools.org and www.rsu36.org.

A public hearing on the proposed plan will be held in December with a referendum vote in each town scheduled Jan. 25.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the planning committee heard reports from subcommittees, accepting some that were complete, for administration, teaching and learning, technology, and personnel and staffing.

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Jeannine Backus, chairwoman of the teaching and learning subcommittee, reported that the panel has gone through program offerings at each grade level in both systems. They looked at enrollment, student-teacher ratio, and reviewed curriculum, among other information collected.

“We found it overwhelming,” Backus said.

The information reviewed revealed that there are many pieces that would fit together at the middle and high schools but they need help putting it together, she said.

Both districts are very similar concerning graduation requirements, Backus said.

The only noted difference was that Jay High School has a half-credit requirement for freshmen Career Essentials.

“We know there is a way the curriculum could come together,” she said. Curriculum is developed based on Maine Learning Results among other requirements, with individual schools choosing electives to be offered to enhance education of students.

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The committee’s recommendation to go further to develop program offerings for a combined system needs to involve the teaching staff, she said. They need time to sit down and work together to look at the weaknesses and strengths of what programming is currently offered in both systems and develop programming for a consolidated school system, she said.

This would allow staff to be involved in the consolidation process and have a vested interest in the outcome, she said.

“We couldn’t recommend a program of study” without getting all the people together, she said. A survey has been developed to go out to staff at all levels.

The committee recommends putting a framework in place this school year to allow sufficient time for all the middle school staff to work together to plan for transition into one middle school setting, she said.

Voters will consider closing the Livermore Falls Middle School and sending RSU 36 students to the Jay school for 2011-12.

Time is also needed to allow the high school staffs to work together to plan for the transition into shared programming at the high school level, she said.

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A proposal has been recommended to keep Livermore Falls High School open for 2011-12 and have the new school board of the consolidated system close it the following year. Livermore and Livermore Falls high school students would go to Jay. That recommendation has not been accepted at this time.

The elementary school staffs also need time to work together to align curriculum, Backus said. Jay and Livermore elementary schools would stay open.

“I think the staff is ready to go,” Jay teacher Donna Labbe, who is on the committee, said. “I think we just need the opportunity to sit down together.”

“The reality is there are staff members in both systems that want to make this work,” Sue St. Pierre, who is also on the committee and teaches at LFHS, said. They feel it is important to be part of the process, she said.

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