JAY — Two days after RSU 73 Superintendent Todd LeRoy released word of a plan to merge the Spruce Mountain middle and high schools, details were hard to come by Wednesday.

Leroy mentioned the school merger plan in an email to the Sun Journal on Monday when asked about the rumored firing of high school Principal TJ Plourde. In his email, Leroy said Plourde was not fired. He said the plan was to reduce the administrative team by one position and use the cost savings to bring additional help and resources to students.

The original plan was to wait to implement the plan, but the timetable was moved up to begin the process of transforming the middle and high schools into one secondary school, LeRoy wrote.

LeRoy’s email further stated the new administrative team will look a bit different. Kevin Harrington, the primary school principal, will assume the secondary school leadership. Scott Albert, the middle school principal, will become principal of the primary school.

“Our staff has been finding the transition from the traditional educational format to a standards/proficiency-based educational system challenging,” LeRoy wrote Monday. “We have asked them to make significant changes without providing them the professional development and training necessary to be successful in their efforts.”

Contacted Monday, school board members Michael Morrell, Ann Schwab and Shari Ouellette said they could not comment on personnel matters regarding Plourde’s departure.

On Wednesday, school board Directors Doug DiPasquale, Robert Staples and Dale Leblanc said they either would not or could not comment on the transformation plan. Director Phoebe Pike, who has missed some meetings because of business conflicts, said she had not heard of it.

Board Chairwoman Denise Rodzen responded Wednesday evening to an email request about board discussion of the transformation proposal and Plourde’s removal. She said, “Anything discussed in executive session is privileged information. This is a personnel issue and we are not allowed to discuss that, either.”

Nathan Harnden, president of the district’s education committee, said staff had not been informed of Plourde’s removal of the transformation plan.

“The staff is reeling. There’s a lot of speculation,” Harnden said.

To Harnden’s knowledge, no staff input was requested about the transformation plan. No professional development plans have been shared.

“There’s a history of distrust based on decisions made by administration and the school board. This has just added to that,” Harnden said.

A special school board meeting has been called for 6 p.m. Jan. 2 in the Cedar Street Conference Center. The agenda includes two executive sessions to discuss personnel issues. It does not include an opportunity for public comment.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is 6 p.m. Jan. 10 in the Conference Center.

Editor’s note: Nathan Harnden, president of the Spruce Mountain Education Committee, is the ex-husband of the writer of this story.

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Regional School Unit 73 has begun a transformation plan that will combine Spruce Mountain middle and high schools to create one secondary school. The plan eliminated the high school principal position which until Friday, Dec. 21, had been held by TJ Plourde. (Livermore Falls Advertiser file photo)

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