FARMINGTON — As Regional School Unit 9 prepares to open schools for the 2019-20 school year, its board of directors met Tuesday night, July 23 to review issues and areas of priority.

Strategic planning for the district was at the top of the list.

The board plans to hire a facilitator to spearhead the process. The facilitator will solicit input from community members, parents, students and teachers, and provide feedback to the board to develop future plans.

The initial meeting is slated for Aug. 9.

“This is going to be a long process,” Superintendent Tina Meserve said. “I expect it will be a focus throughout the year. We need to hear the community’s ideas and needs, and from there the board will develop long-term plans and execution strategy.”

The board also identified proficiency-based education, PBE, as a top concern. RSU 9 is working to determine grading and diploma requirements.

“We need to determine what our grading practices will be,” Meserve said. “State law required PBE starting in 2012, and recently did away with it. Our district never implemented it, and now we will look at whether to adjust to a new system.”

Board Chairperson Cherieann Harrison reminded members they may sign up for contract negotiation training, scheduled for Aug. 22. The district’s Personnel and Finance Committee will be in charge of negotiating faculty contracts in the coming year, so Meserve encouraged members to participate in the training.

Also covered in the workshop was a review of the Board’s Member Code of Ethics. Many districts have a committee to review ethics issues. RSU 9 does not have one, and members agreed the group does a good enough job of policing itself and each other that it does not warrant an extra layer of procedure.

Member Dennis O’Neil of Farmington asked what penalties are in place for ethics violations. Harrison explained the Board could censure a particular member if they felt the measure appropriate, and the Maine School Board Association lists punishments for certain acts; for example violating The Freedom of Information Act could result in a $500 fine, and a Board Member could be fined up to $5,000 for defamation. Only individual towns have the authority to remove its own officials from the Board.

In other matters, the board announced the schedule for upcoming meetings: Educational Policy,  6 p.m. Thursday, July 25; Personnel and Finance Committee, 6 p.m. Aug. 5; Strategic Planning, 6 p.m. Aug. 6; and the Operations Committee, 5 p.m. Aug. 5. Strategic Planning may end up being scheduled for a second meeting, which would then replace the Operations Committee time slot.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 13.

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