Olivia Schanck, second from left, student representative on the Regional School Unit 9 board of directors, takes notes at Tuesday night’s meeting in Farmington. Franklin Journal photo by Nicole Carter

FARMINGTON — The Regional School Unit 9 board of directors heard reports Tuesday night from committees responsible for addressing key issues.

Director Jeffrey Harris of the Operations Committee said visits were made to facilities to prepare for budgets. In particular, he said athletic fields are heavily used, which does not give time for them to recover. Heavy snow cover has contributed to the problem.

Given the expense of renovating the fields completely, the committee is looking at third-party services for a reasonably priced maintenance plan that includes aerating playing surfaces.

Director Irv Faunce of Wilton said the Personnel and Finance Committee is preparing for upcoming teacher contract discussions. The committee will have a negotiation training session Aug. 22, led by RSU 9’s attorney, Campbell Badger.

Board members are encouraged to attend training, whether they are involved with contract talks or not.

Faunce also advised that the annual audit revealed that the way RSU 9 manages summertime salaries on a September to August cycle does not comply with state law. School districts are expected to report their budgets within the July 1 to June 30 fiscal year.

Superintendent Tina Meserve said it has been an issue for nine years, and the administration is creating a proposal to allow the district take up to six years to come into compliance.

“The fiscal year reporting was first mandated in 2010 when the economy was in bad shape,” she said. “To immediately rectify would have resulted in a $1.9 million payroll increase in one tax year. The district is working on a proposal to incrementally roll the extra expenses in over a number of years, which will be helped along when some debts are retired in 2021.”

The Education Policy Committee report was given by Director Iris Silverstein. Policies on bullying and cyberbullying response forms were given a first read at the meeting. The committee used models provided by the Maine Department of Education and the Maine State School Board Association.

Board Chairwoman Cherieann Harrison of Wilton presented information on two Education Policy Committee projects. The committee expects to present proposals for strategic planning to the board by education facilitators in September. Assessments for proficiency-based education will be conducted over the course of the school year.

The committee also recommends the district continue granting senior diplomas based on traditional standards now that the Maine Legislature has dropped the requirement that all high schools transition to proficiency based diploma policies.

Meserve also updated the board on open positions as the administration prepares for the coming academic year. Two language teaching positions remain open and the search continues for a staff psychologist and board-certified behavior analyst.

There are 17 education technician positions vacant, but there are seven job offers going out and four other candidates are in the interview process.

Mt. Blue High School senior Olivia Schanck, the student representative to the board, attended the meeting.

“I think it’s important to know what’s going on with the schools,” she said. “Most kids wouldn’t agree, but I like participating in the process.”

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