Monthly Archives: August 2014
…of the comments section, that is. Thank you very much to one of our dear readers for sharing notes from last night’s meeting. Both thoughtful and thorough, they deserve a post of their own.
“They look too much at what they want for their kids and do not appreciate what good teachers and administration they have. They don’t say, (for instance) “Thank you, Rowena Harvey, thank you Eryn Schmidt for your hard work………..” He also made a reference to how “they” use social media to discuss issues.”
~Jon Porter on parents of Katahdin’s children
Here are a few notes from last night’s meeting:
-Article 1: reduced by $20,000 due to a teacher asking for part time
-Article 2: no change, had already been reduced $22,500 due toretirements and Ed Tech salary changes
-Articles 3 & 4: no change
-Article 5: $103,254 added back in,there was a reduction in technology updates, equip. of $15,000, reduction in literacy program update of $20,000 (THE ACTUAL UPDATE TO THE LITERACY PROGRAM WITH CURRICULUM AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR A PROGRAM ALIGNED WITH “COMMON CORE” IS PRICED AT $87,000!!) The $20,000 is not needed this year as they cannot afford the rest of the program. It will likely be in next year’s budget. One full time Librarian in the district is eliminated and will be replaced by an Ed Tech II. It looks like the Librarian will be on the Katahdin side and the Ed Tech II on SACHS.
Article 6: $35,662 added back in
Article 7: $23,355 added back in – This is where there was discussion on the principal situation. There was no need for discussion as the “Administrative Team” had already made their decision: Jon Porter is it. He will be the principal for both schools for one year. What does this mean? Who knows – when people as questions, they don’t get answers. Also, what is the $23,355 added back in??? Didn’t we just downsize one administrative position?
Article 8: There was a $9,500 reduction due to a leave of absence.
Articles 9, 10, 11: no change
Larry Malone, “Citizens voted to reduce the budget by $289,225 and “we” would reduce it by $178,000 by adding back in $110,000. There is eventually going to be a loss. We can’t afford to keep it the way it is. There has to be some kind of losses.”
There was talk from Malone of “adding back in Administration at the end of the year”??? He said, “There’s always an advantage to sharing principals.”
It was difficult to follow where he was going with this discussion.
Greg Ryan, “If we move the high school at some point, odds are we will move it………………………………….”
Several board members simply stated they trusted what Mr. Malone and the Administrative Team recommended and supported it based on that.
Malone eventually asked Jon Porter to speak to the principal issue. He spoke of two fears he has, one being that Katahdin people will feel as if he is supporting consolidation and favors SACHS, the other being that SACHS will feel shortchanged as he is not there every day. He assured us that he will get to know the kids and will be there doing his job for the kids……..
He spoke to the parent group and people in the community, stating: “They look too much at what they want for their kids and do not appreciate what good teachers and administration they have. They don’t say, (for instance) “Thank you, Rowena Harvey, thank you Eryn Schmidt for your hard work………..” He also made a reference to how “they” use social media to discuss issues. Just need to let him know that this parent who has been very active in the parent group and involved in my children’s education because I care about what they are taught and how they are taught, isn’t that my responsibility as a parent? I also have personally thanked many teachers for my child’s education as I am sure many involved parents have. Please don’t judge us, Jon Porter, on what you don’t know as factual.
News from last night’s budget meeting is coming in… $110,000 was added, and attendees report a decision about a principal for Katahdin had previously been made in Jon Porter. Parents long concerned about their children attending a school governed by those who want it closed have little confidence that their children will enjoy optimal investment of resources from their surrounding communities. How might Mr. Porter build trust?
We welcome your reports and perspective, so we’ll see you in the “comments” section! Of course “contact us” at the top is available for private correspondence. Join us on the author roll, anonymously, or not…
Yes, “voters” – remember them? Those the Chairman admonished, “I don’t work for you! I work for the State!” So is it the State voting down the budget then?
Most of our readers are aware that I have no vote here. I share the concerns of those who rejected the cuts as harmful to kids. I also share the belief that prioritizing spending in the way successful small schools do would negate the need for further austerity at the child’s level. It bears remembering that some of those calling for cuts are the same people who gave the Board $100k last Spring for instrumental music and physical education faculty. I am grateful to them for that and reject the mindlessly simplistic “kids vs. money” narrative put forth by the local press.
Sadly, emulating effective small schools is not the goal here, and spending priorities, among other things, reflect that. Differences between the Board and community go beyond spending priorities to the goal; the vision itself. Thriving, effective small schools? …or a shift in investment to one? The agenda long decided, the Board has not only failed to admit it publicly and open up debate, but also to recognize the rights of communities to resist it or even question policy makers.
The meeting at the Island Falls Municipal Building, tomorrow night, Tues. Aug. 19th offers voters a chance to build bridges with those in whom we entrust our children’s education. These decisions are too important to sit out.
Thank you to our now 104 readers, whatever your position, for caring about education in the region.
MaineOpenGov.org collects salary data for public employees and publishes it in a user-friendly manner. Though the most recent salary data for Superintendents of K-12 schools is 2011 please note the reported salary for RSU #89 (before Katahdin joined RSU #50).
The salary for our own Superintendent’s predecessor, John Doe, is listed as $51,944. Larry Malone commands $109,000.
When warned that such a sum would make people unhappy, Chairman Greg Ryan simply shrugged it off.
Down 14+ faculty/staff FTE since 2010, (available in the Budget/SY14 Annual Report) courses, programs….. Please, Board members: please try and understand the feelings of anger over the loss to kids and burden on taxpayers; please don’t try and invalidate it. Disagree, debate question…. but recognize the right of the community members you serve to do the same.
The attitude of Mr. Ryan toward community aspirations reflects a larger dysfunction in Board relations with the community. Please understand that the budget votes represent a rejection of Board priorities, and not of kids.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mrs. Schmidt on her promotion. She has resigned her principalship and will return to the classroom, where the real work of education lies.
Of course, if the linked infomration is incorrect, please contact the Maine Heritage Policy Center, and be sure to offer clarification here for the benefit of our readers:.
“For more than fifty years, America has been consolidating school districts and the main effect has been to replace educators with bureaucrats and wardens” ~Sam Smith
This is how master storyteller Garrison Keillor ends my favorite radio program, a “Prairie Home Companion, with “News From Lake Wobegon”.
Clever quip? …or is there a lesson here? The Board made a decision, recently, to hold budget workshops in Island Falls, much to the dismay of Town officials from BOTH sides of the district. Though is may seem minor when compared to other issues bungled by this Board, it highlights the difference between the way communities educate their children and the way regional Boards think.
The most child-centered decisions are made closest to the child, and the RSU Law wiped out the Boards that were closest to them. It also eliminated the most frugal and accountable governing body for which taxpayers could ask. As no one building makes sense to everyone in the district, the Board moves meetings to a place that makes sense to no one.
Though the RSU is a regional unit, a child is not. How many other decisions have been made toward an average of all of our unique and precious children? An “average child” who does not exist?
Let’s bring the decision makers back into the sphere of children and taxpayers by pressing the Board to create and empower separate school committees as provided by existing law.
Please click below to find the respective Agendas for two upcoming meetings; the first slated to be held (still!) in Island Falls at the Municipal Building and the second at Katahdin Elementary where the Board will consider staff reductions.
Objections to the Island Falls location for the next budget workshop has come under fire from towns on both sides of the district. This sort of unity is nothing new, certainly, but is hard for the Board to ignore:
“…Superintendent Malone thinks that consolidation could help…”
“Third time’s the charm…” Right?
At the August 11th Board meeting, Greg Ryan suggested holding budget workshops at a “…central location..” to further demonstrate that “..we are all one..”. The Superintendent agreed, citing the effect of location on attendance, as did the Board. It has, thus far, had no effect on the outcome of the referendum….
Please note the new location, at the Island Falls Municipal Building:
REGIONAL SCHOOL UNIT #50
(THIRD ROUND BUDGET)
There will be a BUDGET WORKHOP for the purpose of discussing and adopting a third budget for 2014-2015 in RSU #50.
ALL ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND.
This meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 19, 2014
at the Island Falls Municipal Building at 7:00 p.m.
The PUBLIC BUDGET MEETING is scheduled to be held on
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
also at the Island Falls Municipal Building at 7:00 p.m.
“Hi Everyone,Just wanted to let you know that WAGM out of Presque Isle just left the library after interviewing Judy Bishevsky and myself on the school budget. They are also interviewing Larry so both sides are represented. It will be on tonight’s broadcast and online unless breaking news interrupts it. then it will be on tomorrow. Please tune in. Also got in good plugs for the library book sale.Thank you”
Meeting Tonight! 6:30pm @KHS
Please pardon the late notice — I do apologize.
The RSU #50 School Board will meet this evening @6:30pm at Katahdin High School.
See you there!
“…If this budget is validated on August 7th, the impact will require more sharing of staff, take a step closer to consolidation, directly impact various segments of our student population, and continue to foster unrest about the future of our district….”
Read the entire letter from Superintendent Larry Malone, here:
Below, please find a copy of the Budget Articles, and reductions approved to each by the voters at the meeting of July 29th. Referendum voters will make a final decision on August 7th. Whatever your position, please vote!
Yes? No? What factors determine your choice? Timbered Classrooms is here for you to complete the picture outlined by your ballots….
Whether you use the “Comments” section, “Contact us”, or get in touch and become a guest author! We look forward to your input.