Monthly Archives: April 2015

When Words Fail, Numbers….

moneyquote…after all, the numbers you are about to see, are the reason words fail me – for the moment, anyway….

I hope they will not fail you at the budget meeting tomorrow evening:

Special Meeting on the RSU #50 Budget

April 28th

Island Falls Municipal Building 


Statewide Average Superintendents’ Salary = $91,731.88

                                                              RSU #50 = $109,446

Statewide Average Teachers’ Salary = $51,347.12

                                                RSU #50 = $42,701.97 **

**NOTE:  The above includes administrative salaries, that average $72,731 – the Statewide average salary for classroom teachers is $49,379.30, and RSU #50 classroom teachers is $39,598.68.  (Scroll to table below or click the MEDMS Report Portal link for details.)

Explore these, and other data reports at the following link:

MEDMS Report Portal

…or scroll for a snapshot:

Screen shot 2015-04-27 at 8.26.47 AMScreen shot 2015-04-27 at 8.27.27 AM

Screen shot 2015-04-27 at 8.49.45 AM

Back “On The Table”

Our children deserve schools run in the most optimal way possible…. If leadership believes a good education is impossible in a small school, then, it’s prophecy is self-fulfilling…


Here, we revisit our “On the Table” series; Timbered Classrooms’ exploration of the scenarios of consolidation/closure in front of the Board.

The Board attempted to eliminate the following scenario, #1 “Keep the Current Building Array” but the vote failed.

Whether the Board likes it or not, (and it clearly does NOT), the “current building array” is the one in which our children will receive at least a year of their education; a year they will not get back.

The Board and Administration has shown little interest and less expertise in running small schools, opting instead to focus energy and resources on running either a consolidated SACS or shiny new (and expensive) building in Crystal.

…but our children need leadership that will not squander the inherent advantage of small scale schooling.  …and now.

There are no “do-overs”.

Timbered Classrooms has learned that in small schools, “curriculum coordinators” often teach as well.  Also, that running two small schools in one district is often less efficient than running them separately and sharing via inter-local agreements.  Online/Tandberg opportunities abound, but must NOT replace the mentoring of skilled educators in the classroom…..

Given this Board’s propensity for creating a layer of bureaucracy to “oversee” two distant SAUs; management neither needed before, our readers will likely agree, that consolidation has replaced educators with bureaucrats and wardens.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us, and I hope you will continue to help give our children the education they deserve and taxpayers value for their dollars.

Scenario #1 – Keep the Current Building Array

State Recognizes 21 High-Performing, Improving Schools – BANGOR DAILY NEWS

canstock5750656BDN State Recognizes 21 High-Performing, Improving Schools

“The Maine Department of Education on Thursday commended 21 schools across the state for high or improved academic performance….” “…The department pointed out that at two-thirds of the schools more than half the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch under federal poverty guidelines. Studies have shown that schools with high rates of poverty tend to be at a disadvantage, because students whose families struggle with financial issues may struggle to focus or be invested in school and might not have supports at home that are as strong as a more financially “well-off” household….”

Timbered Classrooms has added enrollment figures to the BDN list, that our readers can see similarities in enrollment.  The BDN has already attested to the similarities in socio-economic status.  Research has shown that small size; human scale is the best tool for ameliorating the effects of poverty on learning.

 First, schools identified as “high-performing”:

Farrington School, Augusta – 375

Edgecomb Eddy School – 81

Fayette Central School – 69

Beech Hill School – 95

Dresden Elementary School (RSU 2) – 104

Durham Community School (RSU 5) – 426

Minot Consolidated School (RSU 16) – 240

South Hiram Elementary School (MSAD 55) – 260

Woodstock School – 81

Daniel Merit School – 147

Coastal Ridge Elementary (York) – 323

Bradford Elementary – 94

Next, schools identified as “Progress Reward” and their enrollment numbers:

Beals Elementary School – 58

Dike-Newell School (RSU 1) – 333

Edna Drinkwater School (Northport) – 92

Harrington Elementary School – 161

Kenduskeag Elementary School – 133

Palermo Consolidated School (RSU 12) – 132

Stetson Elementary School (RSU 64) – 46

Upper Kennebec Valley Senior High School, Bingham – 72

Whiting Village School – 43

Stop telling people that their small schools are somehow inviable due to their size.  Their size is advantageous in numerous ways, and squandered in many more…..

Anger and Opportunity…

paulrevereHappy Belated Patriots’ Day!

Please mark your calendars for this Special Meeting, and make a note that it will be held at the Island Falls Municipal Building, and not the usual venue rotation (because reasons):

Special RSU #50 Board Meeting on the Budget

Tuesday, April 28th 2015 @7:30pm

Island Falls Municipal Building

Turn your anger to opportunity.

Take the reins……

RSU #50 Budget by Cost Center DRAFT 1

Budgets and Bureaucracy

image“If you find the offer of commensurate faculty salaries to bureaucrats and wardens “inappropriate” or even, somehow, “insulting”…

….Congratulations!  You are the problem….”

RSU #50 Budget by Cost Center DRAFT 1

The RSU #50 Budget – Mark Your Calendars….

town meetingFor your calendars, a timeline of when the RSU #50 Budget will be formed.  Thank you to our readers who have shared your thoughts with me – it seems you are of a mind regarding bureaucratic bloat relative to other districts of similar size… ….but the Board is clearly of a different one.  To create a budget that reflects YOUR priorities and values, please, have your say….

RSU 50 Budget Development Timeline

Here is the first draft of the budget, as distributed at the meeting Monday night:

RSU #50 Budget by Cost Center DRAFT 1

A look at the Faculty and Staff Directories of Schools similar in size to each school in RSU #50 on their own websites gives us a picture of the size of their bureaucracies.  The Maine Department of Education publishes ED279s, as well, to see how we compare to their goals, and other districts:

The Maine Heritage Policy Center keeps a list of top Superintendents’ salaries:

We hope this helps.

It’s Your Money…

money geese…and they are your children.  They need every dollar taxpayers struggle to provide for their education to work exceedingly hard, maximizing opportunity for them, and their communities.

Budget season is here, on the wings of northward-flying geese.  Below, please find the first draft of the budget to aid in your preparations.  The more detailed format is welcome!

RSU #50 Budget by Cost Center DRAFT 1

UPDATE: RSU Withdrawal – Questions and Answers

twochildrenholdinghands“The Town of Sherman has been presented with a valid petition for withdrawal from RSU #50. We are attempting to obtain as much information as possible and want to share it with everyone.” ~Debra O’Roak, Sherman Town Manager

Many thanks to Mrs. O’Roak for keeping our readers informed, and also for the online questions she posed to Paula Gravelle, of the Maine Department of Education in charge of the withdrawal process.

Read their correspondence; questions and answers, here:

Q&A With The Maine Department of Education Re: RSU Withdrawal

Lessons from Rural Schools

townsquare“When so many districts struggle to provide good educational programs, administrators should consider staying small, involving parents and nurturing ties to the community…”

Read the full article, by Barbara Kent Lawrence, here

Confronting Scale…

ringaroundtherosy“We need to confront honestly the issue of scale. Bigness has a charm and a drama that are seductive, especially to politicians and financiers; but bigness promotes greed, indifference, and damage, and often bigness is not necessary…”

~Wendell Berry

AGENDA: April Board Meeting

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The RSU #50 Board will hold its April Board meeting on April 13th, @6:30pm, Katahdin Elementary School.

In addition to the budget, the Board has consequential decisions surrounding consolidation/closure on the table.

For the official Agenda, click here.

For scenarios under consideration, visit our “On The Table” series.

Be heard.

Show Me The Money! A Budget Detail….

budget seasonIf Timbered Classrooms had a list of “Frequently Asked Questions”, then, “Where is all the money going?” would have to be on it.  Though communities paying more and getting less need answers, it is a difficult one.  We are grateful, then, to a civic-minded reader for submitting the following detailed budget, broken down by school, grade level, program etc.  so that you can answer the question; for your fellow readers and the Board as budget decisions loom….

RSU #50 Detailed Budget by Acct