FARMINGTON — Chairperson Angela LeClair informed Regional School Unit 9 board members Tuesday, Nov. 10, of options for resolving ongoing issues raised by staff about Superintendent Tina Meserve’s leadership.

The results of Mt. Blue’s Education Association’s (EA) vote released on Friday, Oct. 30, revealed that 91.3% of participating RSU 9 staff have no confidence in Meserve. Mt. Blue’s EA President Doug Hodum informed board members Tuesday that the vote represented a wide range of RSU 9 employees and was not simply a union action.

“I’d like to be very clear that while the union did indeed organize it because we have the infrastructure to do so, the 368 votes are broken down into 202 members. We had about 20 members who did not even participate,” Hodum said. “The remaining 166 ballots that were returned were from nonmembers of the association and those 368 people represent employees from across the district, a variety of different positions below the district level.” 

The board received a proposal from meeting facilitator Craig Freshley, founder of Good Group Decisions based in Brunswick, to provide conflict resolution services. Freshley was also hired by the board last year to conduct strategic planning, a districtwide effort to collect input from the staff and community to guide RSU 9 over the next five years.

Board member Craig Stickney of Chesterville was concerned about a conflict of interest if Freshley was hired.

“I made it very clear that it can’t be somebody who has been in the district,” Stickney said. “This guy hooked us for $15,000 on our strategic plan. He walked away, we haven’t seen or heard from him since. So there’s a lot of stuff going on right now that’s really starting to bug me.” 

According to Mt. Blue’s website, all strategic planning efforts have been suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Meserve said she had good assurance from Freshley that the strategic planning money is still available. She also said the board could transfer the strategic planning money, meant for collecting input from staff to improve the district’s operations, to Freshley’s mediation services.

“I just wanted to let Craig [Stickney] know that that money is still on account there for strategic planning, and it is in a special account just for Mt. Blue,” Meserve said. “And when we’re ready to pick up our strategic planning again or if you want to shift some of it to this process you’re talking about, then that’s all an option the board can make.”

The board is looking into other conflict resolution representatives but have yet to receive other proposals.

Meserve kept her superintendent’s report short to save time for executive sessions. She reported that an educational technician resigned from W.G. Mallett Elementary School in Farmington.

The board went into two executive sessions to discuss teacher union contracts and to hold a consultation with the district’s attorney.

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