SALEM TOWNSHIP — The SAD 58 school board began the new fiscal year with a realignment of staff.

On Thursday night, newly-elected representatives Jason Plog of Avon and Beth Luce of Kingfield joined the board for their first meeting. Directors elected Diana Thomas of Phillips as chairwoman and Marc Edwards as vice chairman.

Superintendent Brenda Stevens asked directors to approve Jeff Pillsbury as principal of Phillips Elementary School. Pillsbury was Mt. Abram High School’s assistant principal and athletic director.

The board did approve her request, meaning Mt. Abram Principal Marco Aliberti will be the sole administrator at that school and Stevens would find a replacement to run the sports programs.

Board members expressed concern that eliminating Pillsbury’s position at the high school would shift too much responsibility to Aliberti, but Aliberti reassured them he would be willing to shoulder the extra work. Voters at the June district budget hearing and vote approved having a full-time principal in Strong, Phillips and Kingfield Elementary schools but they opposed spending more money for administration.

“I think communities have made it very clear that they are not willing to take on additional administration at this time,” Aliberti said.

Strong director Marc Edwards suggested the board, at the end of the year, should review the success of the transition.

The board approved hiring Farmington resident Johanna LaPlante as a first-year teacher for Kingfield Elementary School’s special education students.

Stevens said Dave Bachelder, who worked for 27 years in the district’s facilities and transportation department, has retired, and that Phillips Elementary School nurse Myra Coffin has moved to California. Stevens will advertise to fill both positions.

Stevens also announced that the district has received unanticipated state subsidies and the money will be added into the balance carried forward. That amount is $86,550, according to Finance Director Luci Milewski.

She also reviewed the first school board reapportionment meeting, noting that the seven-member board has equal weight in voting power. Maine Commissioner of Education Stephen Bowen has directed the board to base directors’ votes on each town’s population.

Board directors agreed that adding to the board could be challenging, but possible, and board members agreed that quality is more important than quantity. Well-qualified board members who are fully informed and able to communicate issues to their constituents could contribute greatly, whether or not they represent a smaller or larger town, they said.

Stevens will meet again with the Reapportionment Committee and update the board at their next meeting.

In other news, the board learned the district is owed $10,000 from school lunches. The district will not deny students a meal but Food Service Director Angel Allen said she has tried unsuccessfully to get parents to pay past bills. She said that beyond certified mail, letters and phone calls, the district has the option to take the adults to small claims court.

Allen said the district will keep high school students from participating in sports or in graduation ceremonies but Phillips director Dan Worcester said delinquent accounts send a message to others that there is no penalty for nonpayment.

“I don’t want to deny the kids,” Worcester said. “It’s not the kids’ fault.”

When school starts in September, high school students will pay $2.45 for lunch; elementary school students will pay $2.20.


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