Hired to facilitate our newly-joined communities in developing a vision for the RSU, Craig Kesselheim of Great Schools Partnership announced in his recent presentation of his desire to form a working group to begin its craft. According to Mr. Kesselheim, this committee could comprise any number of people… Wait, let me check my notes…Here is the part where he says, “I have no outcome in mind”, here’s “…I have no agenda…” “…not steering…” “not directing….” “…not predetermined….” Alright already! I believe it! Now, about those folks sitting on the other side of that check….*
*Mr. Kesselheim is an accomplished professional, with impressive credentials (no better alma-mater exists, anywhere, in my view) and a stellar reputation; I was just having a little fun…. His credibility and expertise is most welcome, and he should expect wholehearted support as he presses it into service for all RSU 50 communities
Ah, here it is: “As small as possible while still being representative”. A blueprint for the makeup of this group proposed at Tuesday night’s meeting, suggests it be comprised of administrators, Board members, administrators and MAYBE a teacher or two, administrators, a couple of students, administrators, and members of the community. Did I mention administrators? Municipal government officials have since been added, at their request, but the thought of parents serving on it? People with children in the system? …was met with gasps of horror by certain Board members this past Tuesday night. Since when are parents exempt from the financial pressure of taxes not only on themselves, but on elderly relatives of fixed income? It’s only their children’s futures at stake, after all. Their views are, somehow, dismissed?
That half of the members are either administrators, or are subject to administrator authority makes the role of the community members all the more vital. There is a flip side to those on the losing end of School Re-organization — the winners. The shift in resources from Katahdin to SACS; the loss to Katahdin students despite crippling taxes… has few but powerful beneficiaries on BOTH sides of the district, and they are not going to send you an engraved invitation. (Dire school budgets and high taxes tend to make people more receptive to further consolidation, though taxpayers and children are hurt in the short term…..) Those who are against not only the RSU withdrawal initiative, but any effort at all to address the issues that prompted it? Who refused to allow flyers on a town bulletin board inviting people to a meeting exploring RSU withdrawal as a possible remedy? They WILL be assured a seat at this table.
We are told that this group will not be making decisions, but make no mistake: there is a great deal of power in the framing of the discussion, and your input should not be discounted.
If you have read this post (or anything else I write, for that matter) without shaking your fist at the screen, then, they probably don’t want you. Our survey is clear, however, that many parents, taxpayers and students, however, NEED you. So, if you are, or know anyone with a depth of understanding of the issues facing education in the region; who won’t take “no” for an answer from those who would stack the committee with ticket holders for the train to ever increasing costs, and losses (that has already left the station…..) Teacher, student or community member….. Please contact your local town office.