To the Editor:

For the most part, I agree with what Larry Merlino said in his Letter to the Editor entitled “Change can be difficult.” He has some excellent suggestions, but I would like to add a couple notes of my own to the subject being discussed.

Larry said that the superintendent’s salary should be commensurate with experience. I think the superintendent’s salary should also be in accordance with how many students are in the district. Over the years, SAD 44 has wasted tens of thousands of dollars by paying Dave Murphy a higher salary than Rick Colpitts, superintendent of Oxford Hills, which currently has more than three times as many students.

Also, teachers with less experience are sometimes hired to bring fresh ideas and save money in the budget with the expectation that they grow with the district as they gain experience. The same philosophy could be applied when replacing the superintendent.

I love Mr. Merlino’s reference to the SAD 44 family and how they should be involved in the process of selecting a new superintendent. I think the special committee that Larry is calling for should include representatives from every part of the SAD 44 family. This would include a representative from the support staff, a teacher from the TEA, a non-union teacher, parents, transportation, and food service.

In addition to discussions around part-time versus full-time and salary considerations, I think the committee should take a close look at leadership style. Do they want to continue with leadership that creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation from “above” or do they want a team player who will take pride in trying to raise SAD 44 to the top rating amongst public schools in Maine, and increase, not decrease, the number of students attending schools in the district?

I know from personal conversations with many staff members of SAD 44 that this transition to a new superintendent with a different style of leadership has been eagerly anticipated for years and will be celebrated.

Robert J. Dow
former MSAD 44 teacher


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