LIVERMORE — Interim Superintendent Robert Webster provided Regional School Unit 73 board members with a summary of issues relating to the formation of the Western Maine Regional Service Center at their April 25 meeting.

Fayette, Lisbon, Mt. Abram, Mt. Blue, Carrabec, Rumford, Madison, Telstar and Dirigo are the other districts involved.

Regional service centers are intended to promote cost savings through the consolidation of services and reduce state subsidies for central office administration.

By joining WMRSC, RSU 73 is expected to have a net gain of $61,892 in subsidy. The state will also pay for each district’s student information system, a savings of about $10,000 for Spruce Mountain.

The WMRSC Interlocal Agreement must be approved by the Maine Commissioner of Education. Each local school board must call a regular or special district budget meeting or a district referendum vote with a majority of district voters approving the agreement.

If approved, WMRSC would begin operation in July 2020 for a period of two years.

Webster said most schools are holding public votes in July or early next fall. Districts must join the WMRSC prior to November 12, 2019.

RSU 73 currently pays $5,780 as a member of the Western Maine Education Collaborative ($4 per student). Joining WMRSC would cost $3 per student for membership plus $1 per student for services. An additional $1 per student ($1,805) would be needed to remain a member of WMEC.

Board member Denise Rodzen asked why a decision on joining WMRSC was being considered prior to the hiring of a new superintendent for the district.

“I would think you would want the new leader, the new superintendent to buy in to the process,” she said.

“It’s essentially to access about $60,000 and $10,000 in savings. Why would any superintendent walk away from that?” Webster said.

A vote would need to be taken sometime before November, he added.

Districts that join WMRSC must use at least two services. More can be accessed. The superintendent in consultation with the school board would probably decide which services are used, Webster said when asked.

The service center could provide teacher trainings at lower costs, arrange events for gifted and talented students from numerous districts and offer curriculum development.

The Department of Education has ruled that existing regional collaborative organizations are not eligible and a new center formed. Many functions of WMEC will be taken over by WMRSC.

“We’re having two organizations so we can get state subsidy for the support of central office administration. I don’t believe that much will change. The executive director and staff will be the same for both,” Webster said.

WMRSC is expected to be discussed at the next board meeting.

In other business, Webster announced that student representative and senior Orion Schwab is near the end of his term.

Schwab said he had reviewed the policy for choosing the next representative. There is a junior and a senior term. Current junior representative Scott Jackson is expected to fill the senior term. Sophomores interested in applying for the junior vacancy would submit applications.

“The board chairman, vice chairman and superintendent will meet with the candidates. Applications will be reviewed in an Executive Session. If more than one candidate, a vote by the student body would be held. It’s healthy for the election process if there is more than one candidate,” Schwab said.

In other matters, Webster said, “The substitution situation is almost at a crisis point. In the last two weeks there have been 15 to 20 slots to fill. I’ve not yet seen more than 11 or 12 substitutes on any given day.”

Webster said classes are held in the library or support staff employees are covering.

“Sometime in the last 12 months substitute pay (in the district) was increased. I hear the pay is not sufficient to attract people to do the work,” he said.

Webster has called the placement office at the University of Maine Farmington to let graduates know, give them a little experience.

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