PHILLIPS — The MSAD 58 board on Thursday announced two public forums for residents to share their ideas on the future of the district.

The forums are scheduled from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, at the Phillips Elementary School and Thursday, Dec. 13, at the Strong Elementary School.

Superintendent Susan Pratt addressed the concern by Strong selectmen that a 14-member school board is too large. She said the Maine Department of Education requires that each town have a weighted vote proportionate to its population. Any changes have to be approved through a strict review process.

“This would never be a decision we would make,” she said. “It never gets voted on by the board or the citizens.”

Those wanting to reduce the number of directors or change the weighted vote calculation must submit a petition to the state Department of Education. If the state commissioner approves moving ahead with the request, each town would form a committee that includes a selectman, a school director and a community member. The committee would make recommendations to the commissioner.

The state Department of Education approved a districtwide plan submitted in 2013 to increase the number of MSAD 58 directors from seven to 14. The four directors from Phillips each have 69 votes, the four from Kingfield have 67 votes, the four from Strong have 82 votes and the two from Avon have 62 votes.


Since then, there have only been slight changes in population, according to Pratt.

“We’re still in apportionment,” she said.

In other matters, Facilities Manager Scott LeHay told the board that he received about $140,000 as part of a government settlement with Volkswagen and its affiliated companies.

“Volkswagen got caught cheating on their emissions standards,” he said.

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s report, Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act by selling about 590,000 vehicles with diesel motors equipped with software that reported vehicles were cleaner and more fuel-efficient than they really were.

The EPA settled with Volkswagen in 2016. Maine got about $10 million in the settlement, and LeHay applied for some of it on behalf of RSU 58.

Part of the settlement required the company to offer schools a chance to replace its two oldest buses. RSU 58 will pay $20,000 and Volkswagen will pay $80,000 for each new bus.

The buses will go to a company for parts. Engines will have holes drilled in them so they can’t be resold or put back on the road.

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