FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors voted unanimously Tuesday night to have a curriculum coordinator position for 2018-19.

Superintendent Tom Ward recommended they stay with a curriculum coordinator and leave it up to a new superintendent to determine, after a year, whether an assistant superintendent/curriculum coordinator position would be needed for the 2019-20 school year.

The board’s Administrative Evaluation Committee is leading a search committee to hire a superintendent to start July 1. Ward plans to retire June 30.

“Our biggest need is a curriculum coordinator. As you know when you add assistant superintendent to the position, it becomes controversial. Not that it is not needed,” Ward said.

The school district had a director of curriculum/assistant superintendent up until August 2017 when Leanne Condon took a position at Regional School Unit 10 in the Rumford, Mexico, Buckfield area.

Ward said the curriculum coordinator position will be posted Wednesday. 

Laura Columbia is serving this year as interim curriculum coordinator. The Administrative Evaluation Committee will make recommendations on hiring once all applications are submitted and interviews completed.

Ward said with two cellphones and email available, there is no reason he couldn’t be reached. The only problem is if a superintendent is ill, the board cannot hold a meeting without a superintendent, by statute, he said. What they could do, he said, is ask a neighboring superintendent to be acting superintendent, if it was necessary for the board to meet during that time.  

Ward asked the school board to skip the meeting scheduled for March 13 to allow administrators to finalize their initial budget proposal to the board and community.

Administrators stayed in their buildings this week because of last week’s school threats. Four students were accused of making comments and suspended from school last week.

The proposed budget will be presented at 6:30 p.m. March 20 at the Forum at Mt. Blue Campus in Farmington.

Developing the budget is a difficult process since the district did not get the same increase from the state that it did for the current budget, Ward said. 

“We are going to be very clear” about what items will cause the budget to go up and why, he said.

In some cases, the budget will go up but there will be revenues to cover it, he said. One instance is in January businessman Richard Bjorn, owner of Kyes Insurance in Farmington, donated $470,000 over two years for career and technical education programs and other needs.

Elementary school administrators are also working on a plan to create an alternative education program for students with behavioral issues.

The initial costs given previously were more than $650,000. Principals have found ways to reduce it to about $300,000 and offered five options for the board to consider during the budget process.

“We are working hard. We are being creative,” Ward said. “We are looking at all the angles. We are making cuts to bring in a budget that supports our students’ needs and is appropriate for communities.”

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