Futures Task Force News

tumblr_mbyjarrM6E1rwqnrwo1_1280-1The Futures Task Force will hold a public forum in the next few weeks or so, so watch this space, and the page above dedicated to it!  Below, please find the notes from a previous meeting.  Future configurations of buildings/scenarios affect our children a great deal.  Our thanks to Peggy White for sharing these meeting notes with our readers:

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4 responses to “Futures Task Force News

  1. Thank you for these notes, but doesn’t it seem like this committee should have some answers/proposals ready for the pubic by now?? They have been working with Craig Kesselheim from Great Schools Partnership since last fall. (Remember that the board approved $20,000 for Great Schools Partnership to do this study!) It does not appear that any progress is being made. Taxpayers are going to get frustrated with this – spending more and more to what end!? The “public forum” held a few months ago was certainly not informative and was a long ways from a public meeting/forum! Board members should be asking questions of this committee and demanding something productive from them.

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    • The notes are rather vague, admittedly, but, I’m afraid it is all I could muster. After a written request to Craig Kesselheim went unanswered, I asked for them at a meeting last week. Barbara Burton and Peggy White graciously got them for me.

      School consolidation agendas must be infuriatingly secretive to work, because they can’t prove their worth. By the time the public is informed, the padlock is already on the door. Great Schools Partnership may well be advising on how to get the closure done; how to navigate public opposition. Last year, our Superintendent was surprisingly open about his agenda. “You need one high school!” “You’re cutting programs now, close a building.” I can find you $100,000 right now if you close a building.” This year? not so much…

      At a recent meeting, Board members expressed frustration at the FTF because while Chairman Greg Ryan insisted “…AFTER the budget vote”, other Board members want that very information to inform the budget process!

      At that same meeting, Mr. Ryan was visibly impatient with the continued existence of Katahdin, and hopes that the budget will “..force…” communities to consider it. “Show them how much it costs to run this place….” …and go from there. He has stated previously that “Everyone wants to cut administration, but you really can’t….” He didn’t elaborate, because it was at the last FTF public forum (that wasn’t!) and it began at that point. Mr. Knowles was quoted earlier in the school year, “If you cut administration, kids are going to start losing services real quick!” …but of course failed to substantiate that. Couple these fierce protections of administration from the chopping block, with an ungodly six-figure salary of a second-year Superintendent who needs consultants to do his job….. ?Pretty cozy. When asked about public anger about raising that six figure salary, Mr. Ryan just shrugged his shoulders, and said, “They’ll be angry anyway.” It is this, dysfunctional attitude of a Board Chair for the people he serves that the community must solve in order to build a better education system. It will have to be done in a very public way, too, by taxpayers who have every right to be angry. People will have to fight for a platform, too, because as we saw in the last public forum, they will likely continue to try and control the narrative.

      There will be another public forum, and I hope it will be more open-ended. The last one was intended to serve the committee alone, but left many community members frustrated. They will not be satisfied with another exercise like it, and will hopefully demand one where THEIR questions are answered in real time! Were ANY of the questions people were allowed to leave on their way out the door answered? Ever? When?

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  2. Mr. Ryan should not be the head of the board when he clearly has an agenda to close Katahdin and consolidate. As I hear these things it makes it abundantly clear that they have no concern for our students education, but they sure can spend the taxpayers’ money, and very wastefully. Easy to spend other people’s money. Our kids would not lose by cutting administration. How about thoughts for the community of the Katahdin school district. It hurts our community when we don’t have a school, it also hurts businesses, who tend to contribute to our schools. If the board or Superintendent had any business sense they would know that this will hurt our community. Cut the budge in half to five million. Stop asking people to pay more.
    Spending money isn’t going to fix our kids education, getting rid of the bureaucrats and keeping teachers that are great and hiring qualified teachers as we’ll. how does it fix a problem to shuffle a science teacher to junior high, because the freshman have been short changed by her. More money to this district will compound the problems.

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    • Your comment embodies a favorite quote:

      “Lose your school. Lose your community. School administrative districts were no more than a scam and a few people have finally figured out that it would be nice to keep the control and the tax dollars in town. Oh, it would also be nice to keep the kids in town. But getting the control and the money back is the main thing. You will not get your schools back in town without a fight. There’s too much money at stake. And it’s fun to spend other people’s money.”

      ~Robert Karl Skoglund, “The Humble Farmer”

      It’s “fun” for Greg Ryan to spend the property tax dollars of Sherman, Patten, Mt. Chase, Stacyville….for his community of Island Falls and SACS. I was advised by the State that, though the distribution of State contributions is carefully controlled, the Board can dispose of local tax dollars in any way they like. Taxpayers in Sherman, Patten, Stacyville and Mt. Chase are sick to death of seeing their tax dollars go to one school in the district, and their children to another, where they go without. This is a well documented phenomenon of district consolidation elsewhere and why more well-heeled schools around the State got out. People want and expect their property tax dollars to stay in their communities and should not have to defend their right to educate their children close to home simply because a neighboring town wants all the money for themselves.

      If people demand more cuts at the budget vote, then, they will take if from the kids. They will say they “have no choice” but to close Katahdin, and may even hide behind some trumped up safety issue.

      They will not cut administration, management etc. unless people specifically speak up and demand it. They have taken all of that off the chopping block.

      The good news is, that a withdrawal effort is underway. Though that takes time, I hope you will support it and also demand that the Board govern in a way that “…recognize and maintain the culture and traditions of the two districts…” ( http://bangordailynews.com/2012/08/09/news/aroostook/new-superintendent-hired-for-patten-smyrna-area-schools/ ) The Board can create and empower two separate committees that may help guard their interests (https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/pearls-of-wisdom-from-our-coastal-cousins/ ) I hope you will help.

      Thank you for this! You demonstrate quite a depth of understanding of what is going on here. It really is encouraging. I wish we had a mind like yours on the Board:)

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