MINOT — Selectmen, dismayed at the prospect that the RSU 16 School Committee appears poised to adopt a policy requiring community groups that want to use school facilities to carry $100,000 in liability insurance coverage, voted on Monday to urge the School Committee to reject the plan.

“We built our school, then we were forced to give the school away, and now we’re being told we can’t use it without carrying $100,000 liability,” Selectman Eda Tripp said.

A week ago, RSU 16 Assistant Superintendent Kim Brandt told the School Committee that most Maine school districts have, or are in the process of adopting, such a policy as a matter of fiscal responsibility.

“It’s meant to protect the district, and therefore the taxpayers, from incurring costs in the form of repairs or increased premiums due to claims,” Brandt said at the time.

According to Brandt, the fear was that if an accident should happen, the school district, as the one carrying the liability insurance, would see its insurance rates soar.

“An accident could mean that we would need to give up other things in our budget such as books and supplies that impact our students’ learning in order to pay for a costly repair and/or higher insurance premiums for seven years,” Brandt said.

Brandt noted that Minot might be the RSU 16 town most affected by the policy as it, unlike Mechanic Falls and Poland, had no recreation department which could carry liability insurance and which could function as an umbrella protector.

Brandt estimated the cost for liability insurance on a group of 10 adults, playing basketball once a week for the school year, at between $200 and $300 — an amount she admitted might prove discouraging to a small group.

Tripp was puzzled that the issue had arisen without apparent reason.

“I don’t know of one incident,” Tripp said. “In years past, if someone’s house burned, we had a benefit supper, if the snowmobile club wanted to raise some money, they had a benefit supper.”

In recent years, Tripp noted, it seemed more and more requirements had been added, the effect of which was to push the community further and further away.

“They’re taking the community out of our community school,” Selectman Dan Callahan said.

“They wonder why we have issues with the school,” Selectman Dean Campbell said. “This will not be generating public support.”

Selectmen plan to send the School Committee a letter.

In other business, selectmen approved Town Administrator Arlan Saunders’ decision to give the Maine Forest Service permission to put an insect trap in one of the ash trees in front of the fire station to trap emerald ash borers.

The traps are non-toxic and, Saunders assured selectmen, care will be taken that the traps be placed on town property.

Selectmen also appointed Candace Gilpatric as a voting Planning Board member and appointed Campbell to serve as the town’s fire chief through Jan. 31, 2015, the remainder of the fiscal year.

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