Monthly Archives: March 2015

Be Careful What You Wish For – You Just Might Get It

be-careful-what-you-wish-for-4Let’s assume, just for a moment that it’s true, that large schools with which the Board is so enamored are somehow “better” for kids.  (Please stay with me here….)

I’ve long been struck by the Board apparently “deciding” whether to pursue growing school size by consolidation/construction OR “innovating” in order to make the most of small schools.

What?

Lest this Board and Superintendent forget, you ARE running small schools for the time being, and by NOT “innovating” to optimize the educational experience for kids; by pursuing consolidation and, inexplicably, construction in LEIU of innovation…. .You are squandering opportunity that they will NEVER GET BACK.

That is no small thing, and the travesty that drives this blog perhaps more than the prospect of consolidation.  These children cannot wait for you to sort things out – they need and deserve an optimal, effective education now.  Size, scale are not only unnecessary, but expensive and unwanted.

“..but you’re not providing a good education 15 minutes from your house!” ~the Superintendent to a parent who spoke to her children’s current commute to school.  An admission?  Yes.  Acceptable?  No.

Now let’s stop assuming that large schools are better.  There is a reason this Board offers no proof – they aren’t at all preferable, and in fact, small schools are superior educationally and fiscally, evidence to which Timbered Classrooms has compiled.

The fact that investment in K-12 yields the greatest return on Economic Development dollars is very well established, but size/scale is anathema to this.  Perhaps Mr. Walker is thinking of Economic Development opportunity by supporting a new school.  Perhaps he believes real estate customers will stop “skipping to Houlton” if it were built.    Clearly buyers would “skip” even more readily, as you pile on crushing new building costs?  So, if you could just “get to EPS” the state would pay, what, a small fraction?  Enrollment will continue to decline, in some ways because of EPS demands.  Children are not “concentrated” in one community and neither should be their educational resources.  Shuttering the assets of neighboring communities is a tempting option for struggling communities, but it doesn’t work – fiscally or ethically.

The number one quality parents look for in schools is NOT buildings at all but something that flows naturally in small schools:  individual attention.  EPS will not provide this – it was designed to close small schools, not enhance their quality.  The ED279 tells us that this Board is not interested in “getting to EPS” for administration, far surpassing recommendations.  Small schools do not need expensive management, curriculum coordinators and the like.  Just accomplished, professional teachers and innovative supportive leadership.  With the ready availability of online resources… The possibilities are endless.

“….grades 7-12 over here (SACS)..bottom line…”  ~Chairman Greg Ryan

….a quote, perhaps paraphrased a bit, that came to us from a reader present at Monday night’s meeting.  (Past quips include, “We are going to be consolidated somewhere!”)

Neither the Ames Associates report, nor the empirical research justifies this proclamation, to which, evidently, no Board member objected.

Is it enough to stop Katahdin’s closure if the leadership lacks the expertise and buy-in to optimize its potential?  If Katahdin remains open within an RSU governance structure that is determined to subject it to fiscal asphyxiation, parents will surely continue to pursue other options for their children.  What will be the effect then?  If communities vote to keep Katahdin open, then the RSU will levy all the extra costs.  What is the point then, of remaining in, and paying into an RSU that does not share the costs equitably?

A bright young teacher said of declining enrollment, “We should be able to afford to give them more not less..”.

Why wish for “scale” that rural children can never give you and families reject?  Why waste money in an EPS model that makes no fiscal sense to small rural schools?

Why cling an RSU model that clearly is not working for kids?

It doesn’t matter why.  The Board has never wavered, and will not.  The communities will have to fight.

“..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”

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Small School; BIG Difference….

With a current enrollment of 104, Isleboro exemplifies the potential for excellence in small scale education, and offers lessons for our own policymakers:1gefs“…a 100 percent graduation rate over the past six years and also has a strong ability to individualize education by tailoring academics to a student’s particular needs and strengths….”

Mainland Students Pulled to Island School

Board Meeting Minutes February 9th, 2015

OldDesignShop_BlickensderferTypewriter1897“…a curriculum coordinator is no longer a luxury but rather a necessity…”

For other news of the rather eventful meeting of February 9th, click below:

Minutes February 9th, 2015

March School Board Meeting (“Yes, I said “SURPLUS””)

squirrelDon’t forget that the March school board meeting is coming right up!! (I wish they would put them on the alert now phone messages, we may get better turn outs!) The meeting is on March 9, at SACHS @ 6;30.

Its really important to try and attend, despite the frigid weather!  These are the meetings that will count, decisions will be made as to what happens to our school and our children this fall…..They will start voting!!!! That has been on the past agendas….It won’t just go away!

Now we are armed with an extensive amount of knowledge, such as, the “task force” report, The “Ames co. facility report”, the “audit report”, we know facts that are pertinent to us all being involved and having a say in what happens to our own!

It may not be “comfortable” to demand answers, but after poor decisions are made its too late! Our schools are worthy of the work necessary to deem them a well maintained, safe environment for our children… Why didn’t the board use the “SURPLUS”, yes, I said, “SURPLUS” money we had in the budget to do these repairs last year??? Its in black and white, we had money to do repairs, but failed to do so!  Who did that benefit? Our kids, our school, our community? I think not, it just choked us out a little more… WE are far from throwing in the towel, there has been an enormous support in withdrawing from the district. Promises were made in 2011, that just haven’t been kept!! Have we really saved all the money they said we would,NO!!!

One ant can’t move a mountain, but this colony can!!! We have a say!!!  I’m not anti school board, I’m pro whats right for “OUR KIDS, OUR SCHOOL, OUR MONEY”

Please spread the word about the upcoming meeting, everyone of us can make a difference!!!