Politics, Pearls, and Perfidy….

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.

Clutching-Pearls“…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.

Thank you.

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.

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3 responses to “Politics, Pearls, and Perfidy….

  1. Thank you, Lisa, for information about Wed night’s meeting. Steve Walker needs to get over HIS issues. My goodness, Island Falls citizens need to work on getting people on the board to represent them in a more mature and useful way, everyone is tired of wasting time as Mr. Walker repeats himself at every meeting and Greg Ryan continues to be rude and stubborn rather than the professional leader his position requires. Katahdin students and parents are concerned about the distance, keeping our school in our community, and we know that kids WILL NOT have more opportunity in a consolidated school – more opportunity was promised when we became an RSU and it surely hasn’t happened! Class sizes of 25 compared to 12 is not going to improve the quality of education for my child! We need to end this foolishness and work on what we can do to keep our schools in our communities more efficiently!

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    • Thank YOU. The presence of well-informed, articulate, and resolute people, committed to good stewardship of our children and tax dollars was heartening. I don’t believe anyone believes Larry’s implication that non-attendance at meetings is some sort of endorsement of his and the Board’s direction. ..or anything else he says for that matter.

      The evidence surrounding consolidation, from previous local experiences, to research and, now, the RSU – flatly rejects the promise of savings or educational opportunity. It is so decisive that it is easy for me to forget that assumptions to the contrary are driving people like Steve Walker. Or maybe it’s worse. Steve Walker knows, on some level, that consolidation is a losing proposition as he is unwilling to subject his own children, taxpayers, businesses, community etc. to the losses he would foist on Katahdin’s. Accusing advocates for strong, cost-effective, local education of vitriol is not only repugnant, it is de rigueur in these debates.

      “We are all one community!!!” As warped as Steve’s vision of “one community” is, it appears we are “one community” in our disgust with the priorities and behavior of Greg Ryan. Our many readers from the North side of the district are as upset about the Curriculum Coordinator idea as those on the South. Many support the efforts of those trying to save Katahdin saying, “If our school was threatened we would fight too.” – they also know there are not savings, and no enhanced opportunity. Some have been apologetic for the way Mr. Ryan conducts himself.

      If Katahdin’s communities want to ensure not only a future for Katahdin but an optimal education presently, people will have to be VERY specific, absolutely unwavering, and uncomfortably blunt in their demands. How many principals do you want? How many guidance counselors? What positions have we added since we formed the RSU to “oversee” two distant campuses that neither needed before? Do you want the music program cut in half at Katahdin? Do you really need a Curriculum Coordinator? ..and what justification does the Board have for this idea? If none (and it is “none”) reject it…

      Running small schools on large school terms is nearly as big a problem as consolidation, and will shortchange kids and cost taxpayers.

      I am happy to help in any way I can, and of course, this website is yours.

      Thank you again, and I wish you well during a budget process in which I cannot participate due to my status as a UT resident.

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  2. Pingback: A Letter From The Superintendent | Timbered Classrooms...

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