FARMINGTON — The majority of Regional School Unit 9 directors voted Tuesday to transfer a high school school science teacher to interim curriculum coordinator/manager of federal grants.

The board changed the job description for the position from the director of curriculum/assistant superintendent that Leanne Condon had held until she left for RSU 10 in the Mexico/Rumford area earlier this month.

Laura Columbia has experience with the proficiency-based education system from which incoming freshmen in the Class of 2021 will graduate.

Columbia’s contract is for 210 days and her salary was set at $75,000, $12,000 less than Condon made. Condon’s contract was for 230 days, Superintendent Tom Ward said.

The board will review the position in March.

Director Irv Faunce of Wilton said what is important to him is that the board have regular reports and ongoing assessments on how the position is working prior to the board voting on it in March.

Ward said Columbia knows that the position will be reopened in March and she will have to reapply for it.

Prior to the vote, Director Craig Stickney of Chesterville brought up concerns on how in the past the assistant superintendent’s position was eliminated and then brought back. He also voiced concern over the board being forced to again make a snap decision. He wanted to wait a week so that board members could think about it before making a decision.

Stickney said he would not support the position on Tuesday night.

Ward said the board’s Administrator Evaluation Committee all agreed that they should move forward with the change in the position.

Director Tami Labul of Farmington said she believes it is the best thing for students and teachers to have someone who knows proficiency-based education since school starts next week.

Director Betsey Hyde asked if school districts the size of RSU 9, which has 2,300 students, run with only a superintendent.

It depends on the area but they would probably go with a superintendent and curriculum coordinator, Ward said.

Hyde also asked if Columbia would be able to focus on the proficiency-based education and grants and not do all of the tasks that Condon had been assigned to do.

Everything related to the assistant superintendent position was removed, Ward said.

With a daughter coming into the high school this year as a freshman, Director Ryan Morgan said, it would not be fair to her and other freshmen to come into a program that does not have somebody to tweak it, if necessary, and make it better. 

It is important for teachers to have a place to go to this week if they have questions, he said.

There were about 116 staff members in grades kindergarten through 12 who were engaged in this curriculum, Director Doug Dunlap of Farmington said. He was a board member on the curriculum committee. It is essential that this curriculum have continuity and support and has someone dedicated to it, he said.

Stickney said he was not against the program but against making snap decisions.

If Columbia is voted into the new position, the district can advertise her science position, Ward said. 

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