FARMINGTON — Mt. Blue School District has found leadership in Christian Elkington as the district’s new superintendent. The RSU 9 Board of Directors voted unanimously during their Tuesday meeting to approve Elkington’s contract following an executive session.

Elkington is currently superintendent of Maine School Union 76 in Deer Isle. He will succeed interim Superintendent Monique Poulin, who will return to her position as principal of Mt. Blue High School when Elkington begins on July 1.

“This is the next right move for me,” Elkington said at the meeting. “I’ve watched from a distance RSU 9 for a number of years. I’ve always been impressed with the different programs and efforts that have been made in Mt. Blue, when it comes to music, when it comes to the arts, when it comes to trying to find the best way to educate kids.” 

Elkington said he is looking forward to working with the RSU 9 community at large and to going to events and celebrating students’ successes and looking at how they are able to manage and problem solve when things don’t necessarily go their way.

The RSU 9 directors began the search for a new superintendent after former Superintendent Tina Meserve resigned in December. The resignation followed a union vote that reflected an overwhelming majority of RSU 9 staff members had “no confidence” in Meserve’s leadership.

In other business, Poulin told the board about plans to collaborate with Franklin Memorial Hospital to use Mt. Blue High School and Middle School as sites for vaccination clinics run by the hospital. The clinics’ will try to have all interested students fully vaccinated by the end of the year, with parental consent. The move comes after the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12-15.

The goal of the clinics is to administer both the first and second doses of the vaccine before the end of the schoolyear, June 11 “to remove hurdles or barriers for any students that might encounter” obstacles accessing vaccination sites, Poulin said in an interview.

RSU 9 will be coordinating with Franklin Memorial to release students during the school day and send them to the clinic, Poulin said. She emphasized that the clinic will be on the Mt. Blue campus but ultimately run by Franklin Memorial under the hospital’s own protocols and requirements.

In other business, the board discussed plans for Mt. Blue High School to offer “diversity” in the kinds of social studies courses taught. 

Curriculum Coordinator Laura Columbia presented the plans during a reading of proposed changes to the graduation requirements. In addition to required courses on “American history, government, and economics,” MBHS students will have the opportunity to take half-credit courses on topics such as Indigenous studies, African-American studies, America at war, protests, activism and U.S. history, Maine history and culinary anthropology. Whether or not a course is taught will depend on how many students enroll.

Columbia said a student asked that the school “offer more variety and a focus not just on American or European history” with some diversity. The unnamed student was very driven and worked with teachers to create a “proposal for how to give students more choices during their time at Mt. Blue High School” and these potential courses were created, Columbia said. 

Director Kirk Doyle asked Columbia if there would be “overlap” between these new courses and the pre-existing American history course. 

“Is the point to provide more detailed study on some of those areas?” Doyle asked. “Are they going to give a broad overview of American history and then people can drill down on some of those individual areas if they so choose?” 

Columbia responded that “it just offers students more choices so it’s not just social studies.”

“Giving students some more choice usually leads to students feeling more ownership and success in the classes they choose because they have a choice, as well as the half credit system,” Columbia said. She also said that offering these courses through a “half-credit system” will help “students who are more successful in the first half of the year … and they hit a road block and they are not as successful.”

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