The Hobbit Effect



By running our small schools on large-school terms, our Board and Administration is effectively squandering the opportunities their current size presents to children….  By taking an inordinate amount of time to rearrange the furniture, so to speak…(children aren’t going to stop growing up while you wait, study and spend)  …spending money for consultants and feasibility studies in an attempt to lend credibility to a decision they made long ago, Board members are shortchanging kids in the small schools in their care.   The RSU  needs leadership with the expertise to optimize the assets at hand toward educational excellence and efficiency, and respects the natural advantages of small schools for children and taxpayers alike.




“…The effective characteristics
of small schools can be lost even in small schools if
school leaders chase the illusion that bigger is better….”

The Hobbit Effect – Why Small Works In Public Schools


16 responses to “The Hobbit Effect

  1. This report, “The Hobbit Effect: Why Small Works in Public Schools” is something that should be read by every parent and citizen in RSU 50! It is very well written and down to earth. Thank you, again, Lisa for continuing to research information for us as we face what is happening in educating our children. We need to form our own opinions based on research, etc. not just based on Great Schools Partnership’s report and the advice of Mr. Malone and the board!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so pleased you are finding the body of research we have compiled here on Timbered Classrooms helpful. I do hope you will share this widely with other stakeholders in RSU 50 because informed decisions are difficult to facilitate around the issue of consolidation. Too many rely on their assumptions regardless of what the research is so clearly and decisively telling them.

      The Board is free, certainly, to rebut the empirical evidence presented here with that of their own. IF it exists (it doesn’t) they should not feel the need to “order” people not to read Timbered Classrooms (I don’t know what is more pathetic? …the “order? …or those who would obey it?). I understand that the success of consolidation proponents lies in control of the narrative, but they are not entitled to control it.

      You, and our other readers have been so encouraging, and have demonstrated a depth of understanding of the complexity of this issue the Board is lacking.

      Thank you.


  2. check with your town office, its over, malone had the inspectors back last week-end. they found it should be closed.
    he has asked to meet with the town managers,ASAP. your kids will be on the bus before feb, vacation, to sacks.


    • I certainly have no illusions that Katahdin was destined to close before Larry had both (clay) feet in the door. Neither do many of our readers. He was hired by those who asked at his interview, “What do you know about building a new school?” to do exactly that.

      Why? Greed, pure and simple. They want the money. Period. Full stop.

      It isn’t about kids. It never is. They can say it all they like, but the evidence will judge their disingenuousness harshly. They will try and make it appear that Katahdin died a natural death; that there was “no choice” when we all know size does not kill a school — it is killed by ill-informed and adult-centered choices.

      According to Paula Gravelle, of the Maine Department of Education who handles school closures and RSU withdrawals, RSU #50 has not submitted anything, “even informally”. The process requires this, as well as a vote.

      It does not surprise me in the least that they would try and seize the decision away from the voters. ..the same reason they avoid and are even hostile to open debate.

      “If we could only get a building condemned..” quipped a Board member over horrified “Ssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhh”‘s by her colleagues.

      It would be better for them if it looked like an emergency, though Larry was quoted at the start of his contract that “Katahdin has done a better job maintaining buildings and infrastructure than SACS.” Hang on to your wallet, because renovations there are going to cost a fortune.

      So, what exactly do you mean by “inspectors”? …..government officials? …or engineering firms hired (at tremendous expense) by Larry in an attempt to purchase long-lost credibility with your tax dollars?

      I have no illusions about my own ability to stop Larry and this Board. Simply put, I can’t. What I can do is inform those who can. It is not enough, simply to fight to keep the school, children and tax dollars in town. No, the real fight is for the sort of leadership with the competence, vision and child-centered, researched -based mindset to govern it optimally. You will never have that with the current Administration and Board – ever.

      Would you be willing to share the source of your information? Of course you are entitled to keep your identity private.


  3. ya, i was told this morning, well a least they have sports, next year the same group will tell larry, you have 8 years to build.
    then sacks will have to close. as long as the kids have a ball to kick, and a day-care, who cares, write your check, and wave bye, bye to the school bus on its long journey.


    • Often, it is advocates for small, local schools who are accused of thinking only of sports and colors and foolishness…. Here? “Thank God for consolidation so my grandson could play on a baseball team!” was heard by a pro-consolidation attendee at a recent meeting. (The same person, after telling me, “You are not in a town, so you have no say” turned around and asked Larry, “Now, Benedicta is still contractually obligated to send its children to us, right?” …all in the same breath. Yes. “Write your check, wave bye-bye and you have no say.”

      Benedicta is “contractually obligated” to NOTHING, and I am confident Mrs. Lane will decide what is best for Benedicta’s children without regard to what this Board wants. I can’t imagine that will include subjecting our children to this ghastly leadership.

      One is entitled to visit large schools and small and form a preference for the former. Why anyone, though, would feel entitled to bus children in from other towns so yours can enjoy your preference is another matter.

      Small schools CAN in fact, fulfill the mission of educating every child better, and more efficiently than large ones, but they must be run differently. Those who govern them badly, as here, do irreparable harm to children even BEFORE closing their schools.


  4. to all the teachers that voted yes, i guess it was better to work without a budget, than no work at all. he got every one, with mrs bates help. remember that night, the sky is falling, shut that tapley, bershefski, and roy up. now vote yes.


    • Intimidation of faculty and staff is as effective as it is reprehensible. I understand the fear, and they must think of their livelihoods and families. It falls to us outside of that sort of control to speak up. The Board is a disgrace for allowing Larry to use such tactics, and it will hurt kids as so many talented professionals will no more send a resume to RSU #50 than to the devil himself.


  5. well i no that mr porter has already got all the the kids info ready for the move. more desks are being moved this weekend. alot is going to be moved, but no teachers.


    • There are some excellent teachers there, and the loss to kids is incalculable.

      The damage has already been done, because if you cannot attract and retain the best teachers, you are dead in the water. Education is a very human, relationship-based process and relationships our children form with good teachers are the ONLY reason I do not homeschool. I cannot replace dedicated and gifted professionals. Neither can canned curricula, Pearson garbage etc. etc. designed to profit hedge fund managers who would never let it NEAR their own children.

      The way the leadership treats faculty, and the teaching profession in general is what brought me to my work here in the first place. For those who accuse me of thinking only of my own children, I came to this at the behest of a student I barely knew.

      So there it is. The building will be declared unsafe, and buses full of our children and money will be on the road to SACS? …without a vote?


  6. there was a person on here a while back, that predicted all this shit that is in our faces now. this person was writing all the time and would show up on some of these meetings. this person called it right every time. i think it was a let down to see people crawl into a corner when we had them on the run.
    i went back into these achieves and i couldn’t believe that this person hit it on every thing. i wished that this person would start writing again. my wife and i could not wait to see the next thing they would say. they read into every thing that larry, the board, knowels, and ryan was not saying. they were actually scared of this person. the teachers, the people and all tax payers should have listen. i wished they would give there two cents again. it was gold. thanks for letting me rant.


    • There are always folks who wish us well, but don’t want to fight; others who shout from the rooftops – and still others who contribute in quiet ways.

      Thank you for your comment – we are very proud of all of our contributors!

      You can communicate with our authors easily. If you wish to comment under an archive piece that reasonates with you, the author will receive a notification. Tell them to come back! …..or “reply” to an astute comment. I have no way to know who commenters are, or how to reach them but they may well have set their account to receive email notifications there too.

      I really do not believe our governing body was ever really more on the run than now, and your opportunity to guard your interests certainly remains. Good luck!


  7. Good morning, my response to the comment posted oct 29. I think the mine set that was going on was of a lack of seeing that this man, [ larry] did not have the people, teachers, students, or the board in his mind. I have said that his agenda is all he cares about. Agenda is, closing these schools. The teachers all rally ed around him and he laughed, in there faces. If the budget would have not passed, this condemning of these schools would not be going on. I would not say they
    crawled in there corners, but a lack of understanding that there is evil still around, in the sense of taking advantage of our small towns. I would like to no where the firm that commended our schools is from. I have to wonder if there from portland like that stupid, useless, time consuming task force report came from. I would like to say to OUR town manager, your the best, and you are a true town manager, looking out for the people. Hope fully that the people will not forget this STUNT that he has pulled. Once again i no that the people will see that this is a big mistake.


  8. welcome back, Mr. T

    Liked by 1 person

  9. yes, welcome back jt


  10. Pingback: From The “Fairy Tales Fractured” Files… “We Can Offer More Opportunity For Kids” | Timbered Classrooms...

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