The RSU #50 Board met on Wednesday evening to discuss and eliminate scenarios of consolidation and building closure, electing keep the following scenarios on the table :
- No change – though the Board has long deemed it untenable, and the Chairman has repeatedly blamed the district’s troubles on “too many buildings”….. The Board is hesitant to vote it off the table.
- Consolidate 7-12 to SACS – no change elementary
- Consolidate 7-12 Katahdin – no change elementary
- Consolidate Katahdin Elementary into the Katahdin High School building. –again, garners strong objections from those on the Board, though remains the most 2nd most popular option to “No Change” among Katahdin’s communities.
“…It’s an unfortunate, but fairly common reality that intimidation and personal slurs are used against people fighting consolidation. Sometimes teachers or administrators have their jobs, or the jobs of family members, subtly threatened. Sometimes rumors are spread locally. It’s not uncommon for pro-consolidation media outlets to portray community advocates of small schools in unflattering ways, to use derogatory rural stereotypes, and to misrepresent the legitimate concerns of rural residents and parents as self-interest, commitment to local athletic teams, or ignorance of and disregard for what’s best for their own children….” Anything But Research Based
Board member Stephan Walker’s pearl-clutching self-righteous indignation toward parents who want a future for Katahdin echoed by Superintendent Larry Malone and Chairman Greg Ryan – all taking “it personally”, is nothing new in consolidation schemes . “We are all one community!” said Stephan Walker “….I don’t think you want to be.” retorted the Superintendent. In Mr. Walker’s world, “one community”, apparently means that the costs; the losses are no more equally shared than the unsubstantiated benefits. He went on to accuse families on the losing end of depriving their own children of opportunities he promises at a consolidated SACS for the sake of personal “animosity” and “mascots”, etc. ignoring vehement objections from those in attendance .
I began studying school consolidation 10 years ago, and developed my position on the subject midst a wave of research-based evidence, and an utter absence of any to the contrary. It is easy for me to forget that debunked assumptions about savings/opportunity continue to drive policy, and though they are shielded largely from debate, I reject them. I further reject any notion of vitriol toward anyone – regardless of their views.
Timbered Classrooms values every one of our many readers – from every corner of the district and beyond. We are grateful for equally widespread support we have received and for the expertise among our readers that they so freely share with us.
NOTE: Mr. Malone has since tendered his resignation. Though we view his tenure; his policies and vision as an insurmountable obstacle to realizing the full potential of local education to serve our children and communities – we wish him no ill-will.