STRONG — The Regional School Unit 58 board will not participate in the state-required regional cost-sharing  

Based on the recommendation of Superintendent Susan Pratt at their Thursday night meeting, the board declined to participate in the plan to merge some of their services with other school districts. The Maine Department of Education would cover the costs of accounting, payroll and a student information system. MDOE funding would also cover 55 percent of an executive director’s salary and benefits.

The board agreed in October 2017 to discuss sharing of costs with other districts and review the benefits before they approved a final plan in April 2018.  The proposed savings weren’t what she and the board hoped 

“My recommendation is that you say, “No, not at this time,” Pratt said.

The board voted unanimously to support her recommendation.

The board also voted to make up missed school days by adding one hour each Wednesday after the April vacation. Since the second Friday of June is reserved for graduation, and Saturdays are an expensive option because bus drivers are working overtime, the most efficient option is a longer day during the week.

Mt. Abram High School Principal Shelly Tranten presented directors with a proposal to develop a stone-dust running track and improve the shot put area.  The anticipated costs will be covered through donations and grants and won’t be an increase to the school district’s budget. The dirt track is overgrown with grass, and the track team can’t host any of the state meets until the standards are improved. Board members approved the plan. 

Kingfield board member Kim Robinson asked board members to consider the financial impact of superintendents’ agreements, which require superintendents to accept students who do not live in their district. If the RSU 58 district accepts 32 students in agreements and sends half that number to other school systems, the tuition reimbursement isn’t balanced, Robinson said. The Maine Department of Education sets the reimbursement amount that RSU 58 receives, and Robinson said the amount isn’t the actual amount the district spend to educate a student. 

“It’s about $154,000 on the backs of the taxpayers,” she said. “That makes me uncomfortable, and we’ve got to make that right.”

Pratt said board members need to explain the inequities to their local selectmen and state legislators.  

“This is not unique to us,” she told the board.

In other matters, Laurie Phillips, the Phillips Elementary School secretary, was recognized as the district’s employee of the month. According to the many warm comments from nominees, Phillips “holds a wealth knowledge and always finds time to laugh.”


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