RSU 50: A Parent’s Perspective

Reprinted from the Houlton Pioneer Times Oct. 30th 2013 edition:purple_and_maroon_ying_yang_by_cynderules101-d5lba4e

To the editor:

The negativity concerning our local school unit continues to bother me.  In my opinion, the most alarming comments are simply not factual and in some cases down right mean and disrespectful.  The notion that further consolidation means choosing red over purple or Warriors over Cougars is simply ridiculous.  The attitude of them versus us is exactly what most people would agree is wrong in Washington D.C., but for some reason… it is OK and will work here?

Someone once told me that change is the only constant in life and that attitude is everything… although at that time, I didn’t understand the value of the message, I believe that every day since then has proven it true.

I simply do not agree with the accusations that consolidation has not saved money or that further RSU 50 consolidation is not a viable option worth consideration.  I also believe that the school board has done the best job they could with what information they had at the time decision(s) needed to be made.  The role of a Monday morning quarterback is easy…. second guessing these decisions or accusing them or any other staff member of not having the student’s best interest in mind, is simply wrong in my opinion.

Throughout our communities, it is a constant challenge to fill these types of voluntary positions and sadly, this topic is one example of why.  It is frustrating that those who continually feel the need to find fault are not always willing to be part of the remedy.  If we hold ourselves to the same standards and expectations that we accuse our educators of not upholding, then I believe the focus will change.

My children will spend approximately 1,225 hours a year at school, which leaves 3,230 hours for me and the rest of the world to educate them.  I hope they will be afforded the same opportunities I have been, no matter what the school colors, mascot, or name ends up being.

Although I believe there are improvements to be made, I believe if given the chance and support, we will remain fiscally responsible while continuing to provide a quality education for a fair price.

Thank you to the school board of RSU 50 and the staff members who continually go above and beyond to serve the future leaders of our communities.

~Richard H. Schmidt III



9 responses to “RSU 50: A Parent’s Perspective

  1. Should have stated principal’s husband. Might as well be poster child for defending the board and school. Try having students at the high school. Get the facts right. Forming an RSU costs more and education declines. Too much bureaucracy! Research proved that. Education has definitely declined at Katahdin. Try seeing the forest through the trees.


  2. This letter is a huge conflict of interest. It is very unprofessional and displays poor judgement to have written this letter to the editor of the HPT. When someone holds a position such as that of school principal, the principal AND his or her immediate family need to learn to “hold their tongues”. Katahdin Middle and High School has gone down hill significantly in the last couple years. Delaney Fitzpatrick was correct—they are only concerned with technology. They are concerned how they look from the outside looking in. The students that are on the inside, looking out, convey a different perspective.


  3. Saying the school board and administration is going above the call of duty doesn’t explain why money is being is wasted such as the example of a cook at Sachs getting five dollars more an hour to do the food director job she no longer has. She wasn’t supposed to be paid this amount for over two years but Larry Malone and the board doesn’t have the courage to tell her she is not entitled to that money any longer now that we have a food director shared between us. Is this what we call above the call of duty is this how we use the taxpayer money. I believe a special audit should be done by an independent person from the state which I will contact to see if there is more misappropriation of funds. Talking about the bullying aspect of the school how can we teach our kids not to bully when the superintendent contacts a certain person who posts her opinion and he asks her to stop. This is cyber bullying at its best and it is being done by our top official. So between the bullying, lying and the misappropriation of funds I agree they have gone above and beyond and are just like Washington.


    • …a squandered teachable moment — students are not only entitled to express their own opinion, but should be applauded by the very institution that is charged with developing citizenship. Fear of speaking up was one big reason for this blog — to provide a safe space for that. Utter lack of respect for students was another.

      The inequity between the two schools in the district is quite deliberate; if you invest optimally in Katahdin, then people will be LESS inclined to shutter it and send children north in a desperate attempt to regain programs that would surely be gone forever. So they shortchange children for a few years? Unconscionable — those children will never get that year back.


  4. concernedparentalso

    What is disturbing to me is the fact that the principal is now sending out emails to the students with information on the other students punishments if they act out. Privacy issues anyone. My kid does not need to know who is in trouble for what and if they act out again so and so will get detention. If that was my kids info I would be so upset I believe this is illegal.Yeah technology in that school is such a great idea lol! Even the principal can’t use the Ipad correctly.


  5. I welcome this side of the debate into the sunlight, so to speak, and have no issues at all with the principal’s husband airing his views.

    I do wish Mr. Schmidt had been more specific about the “…not-factual, mean… ….disrespectful” comments. What are they? Where to they originate?

    “The notion that further consolidation means choosing red over purple or Warriors over Cougars…” IS simply ridiculous. …or would be, if that were, indeed, the case. (No one has been particularly worried about colors or mascots here, or to me, personally.) Concerns surrounding the liquidation of one school in a district are much more complex. Should property tax dollars follow their children? Who should decide? Should neighboring towns get a vote in the closure of a school when their children have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by drawing resources into their own communities? What happens when promised quality improvements are never realized? What recourse would the sending communities have when they already have noticed that an RSU Board is less responsive than one governing only one school…?

    “Us vs. Them” is an attitude that has been mentioned only by proponents of consolidation; (prepare for more of these utterly predictable cries for civility no matter how politely communities try to stem the flow of resources from one SAU to the other, from faculty to administration — or try to stop the liquidation of Katahdin.) What people want, according to our surveys, is REAL cooperation; REAL sharing, in the form of an AOS model: share administrative offices, but keep finances and Boards separate. Who could argue with that? There is also quite a bit of support for consolidating Katahdin Elementary School into the Katahdin High school building. Of course, this would not further the aspirations of our neighbors, but it may be best for kids. Should our friends and neighbors on the north side of the district get to vote on that when their incentives are so different?

    Consolidation has not saved money. Look at the budget, and see that administrative costs have risen disproportionately. While faculty was gutted, administration, management, consultants — much of these expenses solely related to the RSU — increased. ….and how and when did the RSU acquire debt?

    I attended budget workshops, where people tried valiantly to be “part of the remedy”. They made their priorities clear: austerity for administration, preserve faculty — they hated spending money on technology, especially the 70 broken laptops. The Board “had the information” from the people, and chose to ignore it. The fallout is NOT “Monday morning quarterbacking” — call it consequences; call it self-governance.

    The fact is, the students are presently not being afforded the “same opportunities we had”, and their school is being governed by people who don’t believe it should even exist; that it is a “waste of money”. Strategic, sure, as the Supt. indicated in an earlier budget workshop, “You’re cutting programs now – close a building! You need one high school!” Better to try and spur people into willingly giving up vital infrastructure and chasing their money into the neighboring towns to try and recover lost programs. How hard would that be if people were happy with how their money was being spent, or proud of their school? As families watch money going out the door for more layers of administration/management at salaries that make those of teachers look like a rounding error…. What do you expect?

    If it is “good for kids”, then which ones? The students of KMHS, their families and communities today? …or their younger brothers and sisters? The empirical data says it’s permanent, but the diversion of resources is unconscionable even temporarily. Education is not a big picture endeavor. Every child deserves the optimal use of resources when they need them and they aren’t going to stop growing up while policymakers focus on pies in the sky. (…and bus garages? What?

    I have no doubt that those pursuing further consolidation believe it is best for kids. The RSU was supposed to ‘benefit kids’ and why on Earth supporters permit the very cost-shifting that is driving the withdrawal….? unfathomable. Why those to whom the Superintendent offers his “personal assurance” that no plan for further consolidation exists… and those to whom he admits he wants to “close Katahdin in the near future” …don’t attend Board meetings together and have it out during the public comment period.

    Remind me to have them over to tea……


  6. concernedparentalso

    well said Lisa!!


  7. I would like to know why it is considered negativity towards the school when people don’t agree with the administration. The lack of listening to both parents and students is sad. There is an agenda. They certainly don’t want to listen unless it is a pat on the back or agreeing. What parents want is the best education possible for their kids. I for one would like to see the school have higher expectations for the students. How about preparing them for the real world. Being able to take tests over and pass in assignments in late does not teach responsibility. Standards based grading is a joke. Things need to change. Our kids will work hard if you give them the incentive.


  8. “I simply do not agree with the accusations that consolidation has not saved money …”

    I “simply do not agree” with the ASSUMPTIONS that consolidation HAS “saved money”. Neither do the numbers!

    Where are the savings, then?


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