3 Minutes for 3 Meetings

philIncluded here are the minutes from the Budget meeting of June 2nd, regular meeting of June 8th and a Special Board meeting on June 22nd.

Though budget information is included, please note the date.  Since that particular budget was rejected by voters (with good reason!) the Board has subtracted $60k curriculum coordinator’s position, BUT added a $70k Assistant Principal.  The one remaining music faculty position has been vacated and the Board does not intend to fill it.  Not only will children be left with no music teacher whatsoever, the Board is mum on what they plan to do with the money budgeted for it.  If past truly is prologue, brace yourself for the addition of yet more unnecessary bureaucrats diverting funds away from children.

Our children, our money, our schools…. Only you can take control….

Meeting Minutes June 2, 8 and 22

22 responses to “3 Minutes for 3 Meetings

  1. Good Morning! I understand that the loss of Bonnie is devastating.. I was also a chorus student back in the day.. I’m curious what the answer is or the answer that would make everyone happy.. Hire two music teachers? Or one that Sacs and Katahdin would share? Sacs have never had a music teacher and having a child that would excel at chorus I would love for her to have some training.. This is all hypothetical of course..Another question did everyone think that Jon covering two schools worked? Did it put too much responsibility on other staff? Or was it a perfect answer to Mrs. Schmidt resigning the position.. One final question I was told by a Katahdin parent that this years Jr class will have three students that will be attending Katahdin the rest will be going to region 2 and bridge program at Sacs..Is this accurate? Thank You for your time..


    • Hello! Thank YOU for your questions – they are excellent ones. Let’s see, I’ll try to go in order…..

      You get right to the heart of a structural flaw in the RSU model with your question, “What would make everybody happy?” in terms of music education. The short answer is, “separate budgets”. We are finding that “sameness” is terribly expensive, and not necessarily “equitable”. Mr. McGary taught me many years ago, and I know how fortunate you are to have him. I am afraid the Board will stretch him too thinly, saying “we’re offering music”. But if you schedule, say, band practice but do not offer sufficient time for instrumental instruction to teach kids to play in one, then the program fails. A friend of mine can attest to what happened when they cut the music teacher to part-time in her school, “Concerts sucked and the teacher got the blame.”

      Of course, we could well afford two music teachers with the money this Board is wasting on consultants, bloated bureaucracy, edu-products etc. Faculty of any sort has not been a priority for the RSU 50 Board EXCEPT when it comes to the chopping block.

      I was at a meeting when Board members expressed concerns that “One principal for two schools stretches the principal too thin”. …but were satisfied making teachers travel? Children see their teachers; NEED access to their teachers far more often than they do their principal. Sharing teachers leaves children at either end with effectively part-time faculty and all the inherent scheduling problems. If the Board is indeed against the idea of a principal being in the building only half time, then, it should emulate effective small schools in which principals also teach. A teaching principal at either end would optimize scheduling, be the most cost-effective (no more travel stipend!) and maximize service to children.

      Our oldest attended school in the Unorganized Territory for three years. We shared a principal with Kingman, which is the same distance away from Benedicta as SACS is from Katahdin. ..not teachers. The entire district had one curriculum coordinator, one Superintendent. We shared a guidance counselor. Guidance was not a “class” per se, but he did an excellent job building relationships with the children as evident by the smiles and hugs. “Too many guidance counselors” is a VERY frequent observation.

      Parents on the Katahdin side have expressed disappointment that their children, who attend Region 2 and want to enroll in the Bridge program MUST attend SACS the rest of the time. I’m afraid that is all I know, but I would be very interested in what you find out about that?

      We have looked at schools of similar size to our own to learn how they run so well; how they offer kids so much more for less money. Evidence abounds that a school size of 200 is ideal! ..yet our Board disingenuously paints them as untenable and refuses to innovate in ways that leverage those natural advantages.

      The Board has absolutely no interest in running small schools in the best interests of kids and taxpayers but in inflicting pain to both in order to force consolidation – an idea they cannot even defend, and that is why they are using budgetary decision to make it appear as though our small schools are dying a natural death. The RSU has done nothing but cost, the Board’s claims that “it would have been worse without consolidation” are not only unsubstantiated, but rejected by the evidence in other schools and our own budget history. https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/where-have-all-the-savings-gone/

      We have looked at how other small schools do it; how they offer more for less, and the Board stubbornly refuses because they want all the money and a new building etc. https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/the-other-side-of-the-fence/

      Thank you so much for your excellent questions! …and your time in reading all of this. I know you understand and are sympathetic to how parents feel about a Board dismantling a school around their children’s heads; having their schools run by people who want them closed is wrong in the worst sense of the word. My work here is not about saving Katahdin, but in ensuring optimal opportunity for the children within. Consolidation’s track record is one of almost certain failure, which is why I cannot support it.

      Thank you again for your interest and input – have a lovely day!


  2. Thank You for your response.. I think we are at the point now that something has to be done. Whether it be the right thing or wrong thing (all a matter of opinion for each). This has been going on for too long with rumor, speculation etc. We either have to consolidate at one school or withdraw. I feel those are the only two options at this point. Consolidation is going to upset people (on both sides of the district) and from what research I have done withdrawal can be very costly. I’m not sure these small towns can withstand the cost of withdrawal. I am torn with which I think is the proper way to go. Personally I wish we could just go back to what we had. Im not sure that is financially feasible though. I do think a decision needs to be made and stick to it. People can then make their own personally choice on what will be the right move for their family.


    • I wholeheartedly agree that something must be done. It is long past time for the Board to “sh*t or get off the pot”. If their claims surrounding consolidation were true (they are not of course) they let children down by failing to bring it to a vote for three years. I’ve long said this “state of limbo” is actually worse than either of the two scenarios.

      Paula Gravelle, of the MDOE, is in charge of withdrawals and school closures. I have spoken with her a couple of times, and found her to be helpful and informative. Though not necessarily a supporter of RSU withdrawals, she did call geographically large districts “problematic”. She was incredulous by the $30k figure often thrown around as the cost of withdrawal “Who said it has to cost that much?” It doesn’t. It is a rounding error in the costs of remaining in the RSU, not only in terms of tax coffers but also community and children.

      The most costly option is remaining in an RSU. The new expenses since its inception that neither school needed before; that other small schools do well without… …attest to that.

      I understand how stubborn the assumption is that consolidation saves money – it doesn’t. Even the Sinclair Act of the 1950’s precipitated steep costs, and the costs of consolidation efforts have consistently been higher since. https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/lessons-from-our-history-old-study-weighs-school-consolidation-costs/

      That is why, instead of presenting rebuttal evidence to what we have compiled here, certain Board members opt to lash out in anger.

      These towns cannot withstand the costs of this failed RSU experiment. I am most saddened by the idea of children passing through the doors of their school with no music, no art… nothing. You’re right. People WILL do what is best for their family, and more and more will opt for online, homeschooling or transfers. …and the Board will wring their hands and pretend they aren’t the problem.

      I started this in 2004, determined to follow where the evidence led. I continue to research… Life would be easier for me if consolidation actually did what the Board promised! It’s a lie, though. Going back to what we had has shown to be more financially feasible than RSUs for other communities; those who withdrew, those who never joined and those who opted for AOS models or even simply engaged in inter district sharing.

      I hope you will encourage the Board to hurry up and make a decision….



  3. There is so much ignorance and blind-sided opinions that it’s almost sickening. I can’t help but shake my head when I read through the mountain of distain that accompanies this entire conundrum.

    I love reading through strong opinionated posts and finding flaws in the statements. atimberedchoir, you posted, “My work here is not about saving Katahdin, but in ensuring optimal opportunity for the children within. Consolidation’s track record is one of almost certain failure, which is why I cannot support it.” This makes no sense. Katahdin is originally a consolidated school, is it not?! Before Katahdin wasn’t it; Sherman High School, Sherman Elementary, Patten Academy, Stacyville Elementary, and some kind of school in Benedicta? They all consolidated in the late 60’s to form Katahdin High School. So we all know consolidation works in some areas. If you, and all the other people who support keeping Katahdin going, really cared about education and their children’s well-being, then you would all be open to any possibilities that could ensure future education. People are stubborn and unrealistic in that area of Maine and they need to change their ways of thinking and be more open-minded.

    No, having one principal for two schools did not work. I’ve never heard of a situation where it did work. Mr. Porter always seemed to be at the other school when something was going on (good or bad) at one school. An assistant principal, most likely for Katahdin, would solve that problem and not cost as much as a full-time principal. Since there will no longer be a curriculum coordinator for the RSU, then that money can be put towards an assistant principal.

    No music, either band or chorus does suck. Before Mr. Zabierek resigned I spoke with him about his potential upcoming schedule and he mentioned something along the lines that since they weren’t going to hire someone to fill Mrs. Cox’s position that he might have to do both band and chorus. Now that he has resigned, I’m sure they’re looking at other options as far as sharing a music teacher with SACS, hiring a new music teacher, or going without. Tight budgets call for drastic measures. It’s sad, but true.

    And while we’re on the subject of budgets, lets talk a little big about the budget of RSU 50. One side is not getting more than the other, and anybody who says that doesn’t know what they’re talking about. The problem with the budget isn’t that the board is just cutting positions to save money or add it to their own pockets, it’s that people don’t pay their taxes in RSU 50. Why pass a budget at all if the people voting for it aren’t going to pay their taxes? There is very little money in the area. Everybody knows that and acknowledges that. But things aren’t going to get better anytime soon. There used to be three mills in the area that employed a lot of people. Guess what? They’re gone and they aren’t coming back. So there goes a lot of tax money right their. The logging industry is also dying out in the area. People that own trucking/logging companies in the area are having to drive further and further away to cut and haul. The little bit of money they’re trying to make ends up being used for fuel so they can truck back and forth. Then to top it all off, there is a large population of unemployed people that choose to buy/make/sell drugs. The area is just on a complete economic downfall and there is no quick solution to right the ship.

    Region 2, lets talk about Region 2. In order to create another “pathway” for students to be able to graduate, the board wanted another option that students from both sides could select that wasn’t already one of the options of; the regular program of studies, Region 2, or advanced classes offered through the internet from various colleges or educational programs. This new “pathway” or option is what they call the bridges program. The bridges program is exactly the same thing as Region 2 except that all the students taking this option have to take their regular classes (i.e. math, science, social studies, English) at SACS. So, the Katahdin students that are signed up to take the bridges program will have one full day at Region 2 and the other full day at SACS. There are a couple teachers from Katahdin that must travel to SACS to teach a couple classes and a couple teachers at SACS will teach a couple of those classes. Also, I think whoever talked about all but three juniors will be at Region 2 and the bridges program might have mixed their numbers up. Last I heard it was only something like 3-6 juniors from Katahdin were going to be in the bridges program because they didn’t want to be away from the school that much and have to travel if they were involved in after school activities. And yes, if a student is in the bridges program from Katahdin and they play sports then they still play for Katahdin. They just have to have their own transportation as the bus will not go from SACS to Katahdin on those days.

    Athletics……..lets talk about athletics shall we? Another reason the education system is heading south extremely fast in the RSU is because people in the area, including parents, students, teachers, and community members, put athletics above education. They are so caught up in this false mindset that they value sports over education and will continue to do so. WHY? Who was the last person that came from the RSU 50 area that went pro in any sport??? EXACTLY! No one. Then, you add on top of that the fact that the majority of students in the RSU would rather find a job and not go to school instead of get an education. They don’t understand that education is a way out. They don’t understand that athletics is another way to learn life lessons and being able to take those life lessons and apply them to the real world after graduation can be beneficial in so many ways. I’ve heard the stories of students failing their classes and still being able to play a sport, teachers and administration in the past fixing grades, and students not doing their school work because they were always just “given” their grade so they could play sports and graduate. Things have been so wrong for so long on both sides, and everything has been headed downhill for so long that I’m honestly surprised that either side hasn’t self imploded yet.

    The consolidation process takes time. You don’t just decide to consolidate one day and then the next year it happens. It doesn’t work like that. Consolidation is a process and it’s going to happen one way or another, in one form or another. Steps are slowly being taken and they have slowly been taken over the last few years, and people who don’t see that, once again, are ignorant to the fact. People say that they want Katahadin to pull out of the RSU and create their own AOS, right? Well how are they going to do that? The RSU won’t let them and even if they could where would they have the school? The school buildings are part of the RSU. Why do you think the board keeps finding ways to keep all the schools barely operational year after year? They’re in the middle of their process and accomplishing one of the steps. Spend as little money as possible on the upkeep of the buildings until the consolidation is final. Is Larry Malone still the superintendent? No. Hmmmmmmmm, funny. Who took the majority of the heat over the last few years while a lot of the heavy changes were being implemented and taking place? Malone. Now, toward the end of the process, a new interim superintendent is brought in and only a couple more steps are needed to complete the consolidation and no one finds that odd? Interesting.

    Like the woman from the MDOE said, the biggest problem with the consolidation process in RSU 50 is the distances that it covers. No matter what, Katahdin and SACS will eventually consolidate, whether people like it or not. Katahdin can’t support itself any longer. Not with the lack of businesses in the area, lack of people paying their taxes, and increasing amount of educational issues. This issue can be beaten to a bloody pulp, but the reality is that with everything drastically going downhill and continually getting worse by the year, the two high schools have no other tangible option but to consolidate. At least with everybody under one roof you can have structure and stability, add new classes with the combining of teachers per subject, bring back courses that were dropped or are being dropped like music, chorus, shop, etc. It will take time to adjust and learn how to adapt, but it will be for the better. People need to stop using their historical pride and the drive to “not be associated with ‘them’ on the other side” as an excuse. It’s not the 1970’s and 1980’s anymore. Adapt or perish. That’s the way it has always been and that’s the way it will continue to be.


    • Thank you for encapsulating most, if not all the ignorance surrounding this issue in one comment.

      My assertion, is, in fact, that saving Katahdin is not an end in itself; not the ultimate goal, but a means; a necessary step, to ENSURE educational opportunity for all children – not just my own.

      “…contemporary research does not support claims about the widespread benefits of consolidation. The assumptions behind such claims are most often dangerous oversimplifications. For example, policymakers may believe “We’ll save money if we reduce the number of superintendents by consolidating districts;” however, larger districts need—and usually hire—more mid-level administrators. Research also suggests that impoverished regions in particular often benefit from smaller schools and districts, and they can suffer irreversible damage if consolidation occurs….” https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/beware-the-oversimplifiers/

      “Irreversible damage” may well be your aspirations for our region’s children. I believe they deserve better.

      “…having one principal for two schools did not work. I’ve never heard of a situation where it did work. Mr. Porter always seemed to be at the other school when something was going on (good or bad) at one school.” Not only did I provide an empirical example of how and where it DID “work” (Benedicta/Kingman) I also addressed your concern about a principal being absent from the building – the ability to utilize teaching principals are one of many advantages of small schools. You fail to address my objection to teachers being absent from a building half the time. There has never been a curriculum coordinator, therefore, there are no “savings”. The $68,000 additional provided by the State is better spent on children, and NO ONE has a greater impact on children than those who work with them – namely faculty.

      The Board was asked about replacing Mr. Zabierek and they were very clear. No. What if he hadn’t resigned? They would certainly continue to employ and pay him. Where is that money going to go? The money is there. It should rightly be used to fund a replacement. Neither you nor the Board has justified why it should be diverted. Of course they’ve already spent a fortune on consultants… How much for a top architectural firm to accompany Board and Administration to Augusta in pursuit of an expensive new school?

      I used to work in Economic Development, am well versed in factors that surround the budget, the strategies desperate communities use to draw investment and the mistakes they repeat. You clearly have not explored other small schools even in similarly economically stressed areas that are giving kids more for less than RSU 50 currently SPENDS: Here is just one example https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/?s=the+other+side+of+the+fence Economic Development taught me that, indeed, the most bang for taxpayers’ dollars lies in K-12 investment. It isn’t even close. …but you MUST go for quality, not scale. Research shows that 200 is the ideal size for a high school, but the Board has a disincentive to actually leverage those advantages. The Board is deliberately shortchanging kids and wasting taxpayers’ dollars to force Katahdin’s closure in spite of the report by AMES ASSOCIATES that determines that Katahdin’s infrastructure is in better shape (READ: “not a money pit”). …but Greg Ryan wants that money in his town, and even Sherman’s own representative is actually willing to “throw our kids under the bus because SACS is closer to Region 2” (his own words). Kids do not belong ON busses any more than they belong “under” them.

      Your description of people who value athletics over education is an apt one – of the pro-consolidation side. Board members have promised “better sports teams” if consolidation occurs, but those of us who value maximizing opportunity for kids to play, as small schools do…. Better teams and more kids left on the sidelines? …or opportunity for all children who want to play? I was at the budget meeting a couple of years ago when struggling taxpayers gave this Board an additional $100,000 to restore highly effective teachers – one in physical education and the other in music. They both resigned, and who can blame them? This Board wants a “cheap and churning” faculty and has no respect for the teaching profession. Have you spoken with top teaching talent who would rather eat bees than teach here? I have. I am as sickened as anyone by the overwhelming behavioral issues and attitudes, but it is for that reason that small local schools are warranted for this population of kids. Those are the kids who research has shown are hurt the most by distant consolidation.

      The consolidation process takes time. ??? Exasperating how adults afford themselves the luxury of time, and ignore the time frame in which children grow up. Larry Malone didn’t have both feet in the door when he said, “You need one high school! You’re shortchanging kids now close your building!” The Board could have easily applied to the State, taken the vote and put it out to referendum…. ….but no. They didn’t have the guts to take that vote and back it up with evidence, so embarked on what has been called by leading researcher Marty Strange of “fiscal asphyxiation” which takes a lot more time, and gobbles up years of our children’s education, years that by the way THEY WILL NOT GET BACK. If they truly believe consolidation is best, they let kids down because they wouldn’t stand by their decision. They wanted to make it look as if they had no choice, but they are making many choices – all bad ones. If consolidation is truly wonderful, and really does take time, then we owe it to kids to emulate effective small schools in the meantime but the Board likes children, apparently, “under busses” if they can’t be on them.

      Evidently you do not know what an AOS is. It isn’t something Katahdin would form on its own, but, in fact, a way to remain consolidated with SACS! Katahdin and SACS share central office staff, I believe special ed. – whatever costs they do now. BUT they have separate Boards and budgets, so if one school wants, say, two music teachers and the other one that is just fine. They keep their own money, pay their own bills and tailor decisions that are best for them even when they differ from a school 25 miles away. When decision makers are closest to the children and taxpayers, we get more effective and frugal results instead of the “winners and losers” inherent in the RSU model. The option to consolidate “under one roof” is still there, BUT in an AOS model, Board leadership would have to persuade – with evidence and cogent arguments, that it would be better for children and communities. The Chairman could not simply “force” consolidation on his neighbors against their best interests to serve his own.

      “The RSU won’t let them” is the reason all communities on the Katahdin side have initiated the withdrawal process. That takes longer than consolidation, and the fate of Kahtahdin’s building would be part of the negotiation process. If you look at other communities that have withdrawn; Searsport comes to mind but there are many… They were able to regain control of their buildings as well as their money. If these towns want to consolidate – that it their decision.

      Funny how the “sending” school communities are almost never the ones making that call. Consolidation pushers are always about “THEY should come HERE”. I had a conversation with someone in Millinocket who touted the benefits of consolidation. I replied, “Great! When will your children start traveling to East Millinocket?” “OH NO!” he said “That is too far for the kids!” I wish I were kidding…

      There really is no limit to the distance people will subject other people’s children too, and are terribly wasteful when they are spending other people’s tax dollars. “It’s fun to spend other people’s money” ~The Humble Farmer

      I know that Larry Malone took most of the heat for his effort to close Katahdin, but I’ve said from the beginning that the real power lies with the Board. The Board is going to have to own their choices, and not just the more vocal members but the quiet obedient ones too. The interim Superintendent was handpicked by Mr. Malone to finish what he started. He used the same script when he closed the Wellington school during his tenure in Houlton. It is my opinion that if Larry had succeeded in closing Katahdin, the Board would have replaced him in any case in an attempt to wipe the slate clean of what is an ugly process fraught not only with outright lies, but vile accusations:

      “…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….” https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/anything-but-research-based-state-initiatives-to-consolidate-schools-and-districts-rural-school-community-trust/

      Geographically large districts are “problematic” but not for the reason you think. Concentrating all resources under one roof in a sparsely populated, large district like this does NOT distribute costs and benefits equally, and experiences differ depending on where people live. Those who bear the costs and see little benefit are further denied the opportunity to leverage their own advantages and see their interests subjugated to distant communities.

      Getting “everyone under one roof”, or in this case, “getting everyone under the leakiest roof in the district” will not bring back the courses that were dropped because consolidation costs. I encourage you to study the research here and elsewhere https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/research-on-school-consolidation-a-snapshot/ https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/education-on-a-human-scale/

      People who use rhetoric like “historical pride” and spout vile accusations like “not be associated with ‘them’ on the other side” fail to understand the reality – no surprise as they agenda depends on them not understanding it. I have been at this a long time, and spoken to many people – you are misquoting them terribly. That attitude simply does not exist, and I suspect you know it. Your assertions are disingenuous at best. This phenomenon, offensive as it is, is not unique to this district: “…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

      Though the Board likes to SAY “we are one”, concentrating all resources in one place, in an enormous geographic area is NOT what real “oneness”; real sharing is.

      Bussing is inherently a DEstabalizing force for children and communities alike. Failure of consolidation either to save money or provide opportunity has been shown with a certainty rare in research of any kind. Does it surprise you that the Sinclair Act of the 1950s failed to save money? https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/lessons-from-our-history-old-study-weighs-school-consolidation-costs/ We’ve been pursuing the same tired old strategy for 60+ years since with the same result. Consolidation has fallen out of favor because it costs more, and it’s high time for its proponents to “adapt or perish”. But the research doesn’t bode well for people to let go of their bassackward assumptions:

      “Few aspects of education have been more thoroughly researched than school size; few findings have been more consistent; and few have been more consistently ignored….” https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/size-matters/

      Cloaking consolidation in false inevitability is a clumsy and tired old strategy. Katahdin can support itself easily if it emulated other small schools.. …. but not if controlled by a Board that wants to liquidate it and take the money elsewhere. I do not like my children in a school controlled by such a Board any more than I want them bussed 40 miles to SACS (yes, that is the distance from Benedicta but Schenck is much closer. Our own superintendent, Mrs. Lane will make the decision on where to send the bus).

      When our children walk through those doors in September, they deserve the sort of education provided in Hogdon, Searsport, Greenville… …any number of small schools. There is no excuse to deny them. None.

      Glad you “love” reading our website.


      • I know people who work at Hodgdon. It’s not a good example of a small school that works well. They too are having big budget issues and are looking at consolidating into a K-12 school and they keep revisiting the topic of consolidating with Houlton all the time. Their school is in dire need of being replaced, like many years ago.

        I’m glad some parents are fighting to keep Kathy in open. If the schools do not consolidate then Kathy in will be able to remain on its own and die a slow, agonizing death. I’m glad people think Katahdin can support itself as a small independent school for a long time, because it can’t. There literally is not enough money. People do not pay their taxes. Last year it took three times for the budget to pass and then a month after it did it was froze because there was no money. A lot of teachers couldn’t even get their supplies for the school year and had to buy the majority of it themselves or go without. There just isn’t enough money on the Katahdin side to support it anymore. I know on paper it says there is, but there isn’t. Think of it this way, if you’re a multi-millionaire and you have all of your money in a local bank and you decide to go and take out $5 million one day, you won’t be able to. Why? Because banks don’t keep that kind of money on hand. Your bank statement might say that you’ve got $20 million in the bank, but it’s not all in there. Well, the same is true with school districts, potential budgets, and proposed numbers for certain areas. The numbers might say that Katahdin can support itself and maintain itself as an independent system, but in reality it can’t. Money is the issue. Money is the issue. Money is the issue! I’m not against small schools. Heck, I prefer small-to-medium sized schools to the bigger 800+ sized schools any day, but if you can’t financially support yourself as a school system them you need to find a way to survive. I wish Katahdin and SACS could survive on their own because if there were two schools other than Stearns and Schenck that shouldn’t be put together for numerous reasons it would be these two, but they can’t make it own their own for much longer. If Katahdin was on its own from here on out it would be a slow, discouraging, agonizing, heart-breaking destruction and it would put people through more pain and suffering than it’s worth.

        I bet if the schools were only 10 miles a part and they were more structurely sound that there wouldn’t be as big of an issue. Obviously there would still be issues, but I bet it wouldn’t be as bad. No likes to have to consolidate. But when reality, projected numbers, and money issues show that you have to, well, sometimes it’s not worth the fight to stay separate. There’s a lot of dirty work involved in consolidation and no one likes to have to be the bad guy in situations like these, but sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the wants of the few.


        • Utopia is a childish fantasy. There are budget issues absolutely everywhere; building maintenance issues and, yes, even the consolidation question consistently comes up. Hodgdon DOES manage to fund a library, gifted and talented, music… The Board is derelict in not finding out how they and other similar schools achieve it, and refusing to provide our children with the same. Why can’t we do the same? We absolutely can.

          Consolidation costs – it costs more, short AND long term. Read it again, more slowly this time. Your math is as perverse as your values that are reflected in your delight at the prospect of “..slow and agonizing death”…. You have fallen prey to the hobgoblin of the unenlightened; the tendency to concern yourself more with the survival of the RSU then about the CHILDREN within it. Children. Remember them?

          I’m glad some parents are fighting to keep Kathy in open. If the schools do not consolidate then Kathy in will be able to remain on its own and die a slow, agonizing death.

          …cause it’s all about the kids right?

          You don’t know many millionaires do you? They generally have access to their money in a relatively timely fashion, the the “paper” that I am referring to is the checkbook – the one that tracks money going out the door for such nonsense as bureaucratic bloat. Are you suggesting that the administration does not have access to the money that would have paid the music teacher? The money is there because this Board is spending it and foolishly.

          I read – quite a bit. According to the $60k AMES Report, SACS is in more dire straits than Katahdin and is circling the drain all the faster. Will you relish a “slow and painful death” for them as well? What parent would stand still for that? ALL options should be on the table, even those outside the RSU because what is best for Sherman is not the same solution that is best for Island Falls. SACS could close part of a building, and Katahdin could consolidate k-12 into one…. Tuition agreements with Schenck and Houlton….

          When the “bad guy” comes around ready to do the “dirty work” of throwing YOUR child “under the bus” to benefit the mythical “many”… What parent would acquiesce to that? What taxpayer, for that matter, when this “bad guy” decides all the money in 400 square miles belongs to him? These bad guys have names, and positions of power. It appears they rather relish the role of “bad guy”.

          Money is the issue money is the issue money is the issue – BAWK! POLLY WANT A CRACKER? Money IS the issue! If you add up all the costs, to taxpayers, children, and the communities they need, then, consolidation is a costly and losing proposition.

          “Lose your school. Lose your community. School administrative districts were no more than a scam and a few people have finally figured out that it would be nice to keep the control and the tax dollars in town. Oh, it would also be nice to keep the kids in town. 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”


          • Debating with you is like debating with a wall. I have admitted my side by saying that it would be great if the two sides could stay separate, but it’s not feasible for either side.

            I keep saying that there is no money because there isn’t. How do you fund a budget either together or separate when people don’t pay their taxes? State funding only goes so far. Of course the children/kids comes first. But there won’t be a local school to call their own if they keep continuing down a separatist path. I, of all people, know the importance of what you’ve been preaching for so long, but also being a realist allows me to be very open-minded to the future.

            We all appreciate all the work that you’ve put in and all the facts that you continously add into your posts, but it’s just not reasonable. When people are so blind to their own opinions then they don’t care what could possibly be the lesser of two evils further down the road.

            People are going to bicker back and forth, and find ways to support their opinions for what they think should happen, however, maybe what’s “best” for the children is to let them consolidate and be one. I’ve spoken with the students on the Katahdin side several times and the majority of them said that a consolidation would be fine with them because they’d get to see their friends on the SACS side every day. Then they go on to admit that their parents and the older generations are the ones that constantly say that they’ll never approve of a consolidation because they think that the Katahdin side will be the ones getting “screwed.” How do you deny first hand polling of the students?

            No one is saying that once the consolidation were to happen things would instantly be better. It would take a few years. I’ve seen the process be extremely successful with Oceanside (down in Rockland) and Spruce Mountain(in Jay). Here’s what’s most likely going to happen with RSU 50 within the next 2-3 years. The two high schools will consolidate at SACS, Katahdin elementary will move to what is now KMHS, and the elementary school will be turned into The adult ed/rec center if they don’t close it down for being too condemned.

            I care about the students more than most will know. People that know me can attest to that. But how good is a broken system with a track record of failing? Katahdin is the ideal definition of insanity because they keep doing the same thing year after year expecting different results. So instead of just trying to keep things afloat, why not try something new?


            • A “wall”? Why don’t you read the writing on it instead of beating your thick skull against it?

              You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. We are debating from two different sets of facts. Mine are, well, facts rooted in evidence and yours are thoroughly debunked assumptions.

              If I believed that bussing children to SACS was “best for them” as you claim, I would be working just as hard to make that happen. But the evidence, both here and elsewhere cries out that, no, it isn’t.

              I suspect you know it too. Though consolidation’s track record is as consistent as it gets, never say never. If you really and truly believe that consolidation saves money and provides better opportunity in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary – fine. You are entitled to that. You are also entitled to shutter SACS and bus kids to Katahdin. The rare cases where consolidation succeeds are those in which, among other things, the decision is made by the potential sending school to seek better schooling elsewhere. But that is not the impression you give. Are YOU as backward and ignorant as you disparage Katahdin’s parents as for NOT wanting SACS to close and consolidate into Katahdinf? Even though the AMES report deems its infrastructure to be superior? Why are you so presumptuous to believe SACS is the better choice?

              “There is no money in this area.” This isn’t news to me. All the more reason for more austerity in areas in which the Board finds plenty of money to spend. Why is there always plenty of money for “bureaucrats and wardens”? Why are they paid so much more above State averages and local norms while teachers stay well below? https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/when-words-fail-numbers/

              “it would take a few years” There you go again. ..and what are children supposed to do in the meantime? You don’t have “..a few years…”.

              Oceanside??? THAT’S your “success story”? When Craig Kesselheim landed, I said, “If he puts Oceanside on his resume, I’d hate to see what he leaves off.” Do you read the Bangor Daily News? Ever? Withdrawals, Superintendent forced out…. It got awfully ugly. Is that what you really want? Spruce Mountain consolidated two schools that were MUCH closer together, and part of the same community. They also ponied up a lot of money to keep the old building open for Adult Ed. and community services so home values, business activity etc. did not plummet effectively mitigating the losses we would endure. This Board is not prepared to do that, and plans to turn the shuttered building and its associated costs over to the original MSAD 25 towns. Spruce Mountain’s children do not suffer the effects of long bus rides either, that are so expensive and especially harmful to poor kids. .

              Are you trying to tell me that communities on the Katahdin side would NOT suffer most of the losses from your scheme? If Katahdin would indeed benefit from this, then, feel free to take those “benefits” for yourself by putting your money where your mouth is – consolidate into Katahdin.

              You are the one who is blinded by your own opinions and ignoring the facts we put forth on this website. I set out ten years ago to follow the evidence wherever it leads. It led me far away from your assumptions and your opinions and you don’t even try to prove your case – even to yourself.

              I take a back seat to absolutely no one when it comes to putting children first. Our lives are a testament to that. For 3 years we traveled to Ellsworth once a week for Orchestra and guitar. The ONLY reason I reject your premise is that the facts; reality disproves you.


              • No, just a former teacher at Katahdin that has seen the devastation and knows that something drastic needs to be done that people might not agree with. It’s tough to live in the area and see all the disappointing things happening. For every student that has good/great success, 3 or 4 waiver from the educational path that could help them. Things are bad and something extraordinary needs to happen in order for change to occur.


                • I live with all the devastation too; I see the factors at play and am driven by the fact that I have children in the district and parents who pay steep taxes in Sherman.

                  Those 3 or 4 who “waver” from the path that could help them? Those are the children who are hurt the most by consolidation; the alienation of bussing so far from their community and the opportunity lost to distance. The most effective strategy for them is the teacher/student relationship, more specifically, an accomplished and stable faculty that knows them well.

                  Given even average teacher salaries, it is also a less expensive strategy than more “bureaucrats and wardens”.

                  You are right about one thing: the children and taxpayers surrounding Katahdin need something drastic to happen and soon. “Drastic” can mean “worse”, and by your own admission, consolidation makes life “worse” for the few to “benefit the many”. …if by “few” you mean “half the student body and half the taxpayers in the district.”

                  The key here, is for each community to regain control over its own children and money – only then can sound decisions even begin. In an RSU, it is altogether too tempting and too easy for a centralized Board to hurt some for the perceived benefit of others – their decisions inevitably create “winners and losers”. This may seem a necessary evil to you, but I’ve been at this a long time, and assure you that it is not “necessary”, or even helpful.

                  Sharing by inter local agreements or an AOS model of consolidation are every bit as efficient – more so, often, because of an RSU’s tendency to pass off “cost shifting” as “cost savings”. RSU withdrawal would assure any sharing would be mutually beneficial, and the savings would be real. Communities surrounding Katahdin would always retain the option to close their own school and tuition their children elsewhere should THEY choose – even consolidate.

                  You describe, presumably, consolidation as a solution that “people might not agree with”. I ask you to please look at WHY people may not “agree with” it. People have a right not only to “disagree” with an idea that raises their taxes, depresses their economy, does irreparable harm to children etc. Stop expecting those whose concerns are very real to, somehow “take one for the team”. No one in their right mind would be willing to sacrifice their children, community, home values and public coffers for anything.

                  I have no doubt you are well intentioned, and I welcome this debate more than you might imagine.

                  ““For more than 80 years, well-intentioned people have been trying to make schools better this way. And it seems logical.

                  It just doesn’t work.”” ~Elaine McArdle, “Together We Won’t”




                  • Hypothetical question for you. The RSU does not end up consolidating. Some people get what they want and Katahdin ends up being let out of the RSU. To save money, they combine the buildings into one K-12 building at KMHS, which doesn’t have enough room and would have to be added on to which would cost even more but that’s another issue, and everyone tries to continue on with what they think is the correct decision. Now, things don’t change as far as administration decisions and poor budget choices. Since they’re on their own again they’re going to have to hire a new principal which will probably cost $80,000+. Also since they’re on their own they’re going to want to get a new music teacher, especially to please the community. So now, you’ve got costs of new additions to the school, a new principal (whether it’s a teaching principal or not is up to them), and most likely a new music teacher. They’re right back in the same boat money-wise that they’re already in. The towns will be happy and gladly approve of all the new hirings because “hey, we got what we want and nobody is going to tell us how to spend OUR money but us, so if we want to approve needed positions then we’re going to,” and an unreasonable budget for just one school will pass. After that, once everybody is as happy as a kid in a candy store, things will go back to how they used to always be and people won’t pay their taxes, the school will continue to have unneeded spending on unusual things and overpriced salaries for certain members, the budget will be froze so teachers won’t be able to buy their much needed school supplies, the administration will continue to hire newer teachers at minimum salary which well continue to force good teachers to gain their year or two of experience and then leave for much greener pastures, and the school will keep falling further and further into debt. After several years of this Katahdin’s debt gets to be too much, the school gets too run down from neglect and overuse, the staff is too small from running on a skeleton staff after several more cuts have taken place over the past couple of years from trying to save money, and people continue to not pay their taxes because there is just no money in the area and for some, well, their thoughts are, “the state of Maine isn’t going to get anymore of my money, even if it will help the school. I support Katahdin but I’m not going to give anymore of my hard earned money in taxes,” and since the state of Maine is stretched so thin already it can’t afford to give anymore aid to help Katahdin in their time of need. So, after several years of continued poor decisions both from administration and budgets, no income from taxes, and debt that could never be paid back in a reasonable time frame the school has to either shut down or look to consolidate with another school. If it were to shut down a few would choose the online route but not many, a few would choose to go to Schenck, some would just drop out and try to make a go at the work force or just do nothing, and the majority of students would end up at SACS.

                    So I must ask, with that being a plausible outcome, albeit several years down the road, doesn’t it make more sense to consolidate now and try to right the ship earlier and hopefully people will learn to work together to figure things out rather than fighting with each other and squabbling over petty little things that they don’t even know what they’re squabbling over anymore other than the fact that they’re from separate towns.

                    Some people say that it’s going to be a big school. No it won’t. There’s just over 100 students at each school from 7-12. I think Katahdin has like 140 and SACS has a little less. So for a 7-12 school there would be around 250 students, plus you add in the K-6 SACS students that would be there and you’ve got maybe 450 students total. K-6 at Katahdin would move into what is now KMHS and things would continue on.

                    What are people really, truly afraid of? Losing a school that they can call their own. People think that they’re going to lose their town’s identity. They won’t. People think that the SACS side will screw the Katahdin side over and force them to pay more in taxes and just use their money to help pay for more school improvements. No they won’t. The school will need some work, but either school would, so that is neither here nor there. Long bus rides? So what. The athletes don’t seem to have a problem taking an hour and a half to two hour bus ride to play a lot of their games, so what’s one hour. A lot of them will probably just get on and fall asleep anyways. There will be pick up points for the bases too so they won’t have to go all over the place picking up students and wasting fuel. Yes, there will be a lot of issues, and yes there will be some squabbling along the way, but at least they’re still getting an education and they would still ha en a lot of their original teachers from Katahdin.

                    I think a lot of people would rather see Katahdin end up on its own and most likely end up having to close after a while then giving the consolidation process a chance and letting their child’s education have a chance at a future. I find that sad. Be one your own and fail, just so you can do it on your own. Or combine and work together at procuring a future that could grow at having the opportunity to continuously get better. Society gets better by working together and helping each other. Not by tearing each other a part. Their comes a time when people need to such up their pride and take a chance on something different. I find it sad that a lot of people don’t want to.


                    • Wow. What you call “hypothetical”? “Far-fetched” is a more apt description.

                      “…Katahdin ends up being LET out of the RSU”? Whether or not Katahdin’s communities continue to be part of the RSU is entirely up to them.

                      Your assumptions about the motivations of people who no longer support the RSU model – that they are “prideful” or even petulant and childish – are incorrect. The RSU does not serve everyone equally, as you have admitted in any number of ways. There are winners and losers. Those ill-served by the RSU model quite understandably want something different.

                      You assume that the alternative to the RSU would be more expensive, and that, again, is unfounded and just plain wrong.

                      The unmitigated gall to call the cost of a music teacher to replace the one who just resigned and whose salary is already in the budget a “new” cost!

                      A teaching principal – a combination principal/supt. was just hired on the coast after withdrawal.

                      Research is like a crystal ball – it can predict the future. Case study after case study; our own experiences…. “What are people afraid of?” The same thing YOU are “afraid of” and why you do not support consolidation of SACS into Katahdin. Consolidation costs. Consolidation fails. You know it and you don’t want your children and community harmed.

                      If the people of Katahdin’s communities reject the RSU model that has cost them so much and hurt them so badly… If you are so sure Katahdin can’t “make it on its own”, why do you think SACS can?

                      Society IS better when people work together. Any sharing that is possible in an RSU is possible via inter-local agreement, a re-formation of an AOS relationship. Why are you so stuck on keeping an RSU when every opportunity to share remains outside of it? I know the answer, and it isn’t about kids.

                      I care more about children and taxpayers than the RSU.

                      What are YOU afraid of? Consolidation only appeals to you in one direction? Lobby to close SACS if you think it is such a grand idea. As the Board leadership represents the SACS side, they ALREADY HAVE, as you so crassly put it, “screwed Katahdin over” for the past three years, along with SACS, inflating budget lines that don’t educate kids. Katahdin needs work, but SACS needs much more. “Long bus rides? So what?” So….. they are expensive to taxpayers and harmful to children! Athletes do not travel daily, and if their families had to transport them that far for practices they wouldn’t be athletes at all – participation rates; opportunities, fall with bussing. “Pick up points”? How are the children going to reach these “pick up points”? Are they all walking distance from their homes? Your image of children sleeping on the bus…. um “anyways”? All to fund and fill SACS or a new school?

                      You’ve put forth a lot of assumptions here, but no evidence. The evidence to support your claims doesn’t exist and, in fact, debunks them. ..and yet you still push them. I find that sad.


  4. What am I afraid of? Nothing to do with any of this. I have no dog in this fight. In all actuality, it doesn’t matter to me what happens with the whole RSU outcome. The board could choose to pass any of the remaining options that they’re considering and it wouldn’t matter much to me.

    I will answer your question though as to why I think the consolidation should take place at SACS. I think that because it’s the only place that can fit all the students should they continue through with the consolidation process. KMHS isn’t big enough for all the students that it would have to house. With the RSU not building a new central school, SACS would be the only viable option. In all honesty, all of the school buildings in the RSU are in horrible conditions and should not be used for educational purposes, but you must use what you’ve got, right? You can’t say that one school is better or worse than the other because all three buildings should be torn down. It just comes down to preference.

    I did not say that the alternative to the RSU would be more expensive. You read into my last post deeper than you needed to. As a matter of fact, you come across as such a strong believer in your own cause (and I imagine that you are like that in all facets of your life) that I think you constantly read too much into things instead of taking most things for face value. I said that Katahdin would pass a budget that they could not support and would continuously fall deeper into debt, and after several years would not be able to run their school because they are so deep in debt. Just to make things clear……..I don’t think Katahdin can support itself for more than a few years before its mismanagement from many different areas catches up to itself.

    ” If you are so sure Katahdin can’t “make it on its own”, why do you think SACS can?” Once again, you read too much into what I was saying and thought I said something that I never did. We haven’t been talking about the survival of SACS in the RSU have we? We’ve only been talking about Katahdin, right? So, to answer your question; no, I don’t think SACS will fair much better should the RSU decide to stay separate. I do think that they will be able to last longer and possibly pull together a meager survival, but not a good one.

    Yes, the salary of the music teacher is already in the budget for next year. In my hypothesis I was taking for granted that you were assuming that these things were happening a couple years down the road and there had been no music teacher for that time, just like there would have been no principal and the school would have needed to have additions added on to it. I’m actually surprised that you didn’t mention that Katahdin wouldn’t have to hire a new principal because if they were to combine into a K-12 school then they could have just made Mrs. Cunningham the principal for the entire school. I can’t believe that you missed that.

    ” “Pick up points”? How are the children going to reach these “pick up points”? Are they all walking distance from their homes? Your image of children sleeping on the bus…. um “anyways”? All to fund and fill SACS or a new school?” Yes, so much. I will answer all four separately. 1) Pick up points. Yup, I said it. Places like stores, parking lots, well known turn-outs, you know, common areas. 2) How will they reach these pick up points? I would assume by finding a ride. How else? A parent, family member, friend, or by using their own vehicle and leaving it parked at that spot so they can save on gas and just take the bus. Not a hard one to figure out, yet so many people make it harder than it needs to be. 3) Children sleeping on the bus. Apparently that one flew right over your head. Obviously most of the kids would be up and talking with their friends. Well……….a few might nod off, but anyways, moving on. 4) All to fund and fill SACS or a new school? AAAHHHHHHHHHHH HAAAA!!! So it is mainly about one side versus the other. Always has been, always will be. The state could build a brand new school situated exactly in the middle of the RSU region (which is somewhere in Crystal if I’m not mistaken), with no cost to anyone in the RSU and there would still be an issue because it would be an “us combining with them” mentality. For all of your research, quotes, whining, and complaining, you still see all options other than being separate as Katahdin being screwed over in order to benefit SACS! Stop thinking like that. So close-minded.

    “I care more about children and taxpayers than the RSU.” Hmmmmm………..interesting. You have hardly touched upon the taxpayers in your responses to me even though I have mentioned them numerous times. I’m surprised that you missed that also. The entire issue in the whole RSU revolves around the taxpayers. You solve that problem and this whole RSU mess would never have happened.

    You say I’ve only put forth assumptions but no evidence. How is that possible? I was a teacher at Katahdin. I have first hand experience. I saw unbelievable things almost everyday and nothing changed. How is that not evidence? I could say more but I choose not to for reasons you need not be concerned with. I love what you’re trying to do with your website, and comment sections, facebook pages, trying to get the communities involved, and everything else, but because you’re on the inside you don’t see the problem clearly. You, meaning the people, are part of the problem. It’s a generation thing; a money thing; a way of life thing; and a stubbornness thing. You know the saying, “think outside the box?” Well, there is no box there anymore and people can’t see that.

    No matter what decision is made it won’t affect me in the least bit. But it will affect the children there for future generations and those are the ones I feel bad for. So many close-minded people making close-minded decisions, and very few people being open-minded enough to talk things out, make compromises, and work together to find the best outcome for everyone. Not people on the Katahdin side and not people on SACS side, but EVERYONE.

    Read this a couple times if you must, and remember not to look too much into some of the straight-forward comments I made.


    • Do you type long-winded diatribes at 2am about everything that “doesn’t matter much” to you?

      The time the RSU’s buildings were designed was a shameful time in architecture. It gives me pause, that operating costs of newer buildings are lower. BUT the capital outlay is beyond prohibitive and the State has no interest in funding new construction here. The Board leadership, Superintendent traveled to Augusta to discuss the idea with Scott Brown of the Maine Department of Education, so you needn’t take my word for it. They spent a lot of money to take the lead architect from AMES Associates with them. ..money they should have left in the classroom.

      According to our State representative, Katahdin was built for many more pupils than it houses now, and can easily house K-12 on the Katahdin side. Your claim that it is “too small” only lends credence to the fact that each school is viable on its own. I cannot support the idea of bussing SACS students to Katahdin, because, to use your worlds, “…it will affect the children there for future generations”.

      Schools do not die a natural death from small size. They are “killed” by bad choices.

      I received a letter this morning that stated that the Board turned down an offer from a teacher to serve as teaching principal for the price of a teachers’ salary alone. This individual is seeking Superintendent’s certification and a year of such an arrangement would have been mutually beneficial. The Board opted to spend $70k.

      You are pretty “straightforward”. No “reading into anything here.”… You don’t believe “an alternative to the RSU would be more expensive“? …and yet, “The entire issue in the whole RSU revolves around the taxpayers ? The RSU cost – it did not save. People knew that, but feared repercussions in the State subsidy. Those punishments were never levied on other communities who refused, or sought alternatives, and are doing better than we are today because of it.

      Concern for taxpayers, has, in fact been a common theme in my writing. Read: “consolidation costs more”. …also references to my own parents. It is a very common phenomenon for people to focus on preserving the “system”, here, the RSU, rather than the people it is supposed to serve but never will. You are a staunch defender of the RSU model and reject alternatives even when presented with evidence that they are superior.

      It is larger, regional Boards that “pass budgets they can’t support”, as they tend to spend money on items the people do not support – and don’t listen to the people. We have seen that time and again since RSU formation. It is well documented that financial support from communities falls with consolidation, as taxpayers see their money spent farther away from their benefit. Local Boards are more accountable to the people, and tend to spend money more wisely. (No local Board would hire an expensive assistant principal when an alternative is presented, or pay consultants to do the Superintendent’s job, or architects to hold their hand when they engage with the State and a long list of wasteful things.)

      Teaching is an honorable profession, but the fact that you were a teacher at Katahdin does not constitute evidence that consolidation works. It is a non sequitor. You would be surprised at how much I know about what has gone on beyond those doors – we see the same things, and the faculty communicates with us the way it cannot with the Board. There is no evidence that your “solution” – consolidating into SACS would solve the very things to which you refer. The very behavioral and cultural issues you would solve with consolidation, are made worse by it.

      The evidence is unequivocally telling us that consolidation will only make things worse. Of course people’s assumptions yell at them even louder, and too many never really look for the answers.

      “It isn’t what you don’t know; it’s what you know for sure that just isn’t so.” …the very definition of “closed minded”.

      Transportation to and from school is essential to equity, and instituted earlier in the last century to facilitate school consolidation. Now that it hasn’t lived up to its promise you cannot seek the savings consolidation failed to deliver by having children hitchhike to pick up points. It is inequitable, and will hurt a lot of families who are already struggling to pay taxes for those busses; for their children’s education.

      What we want is something better than what we have, and for a lower cost. ..and for the Board to look around the State to learn how to deliver that.

      Consolidation is a VERY old, twentieth-century – and widely discredited idea. It is not “outside the box” at all. It’s the same old box. People “can’t see that” because their assumptions tell them it works. So they never try and find out. They never question policymakers who insist that “…it would have been worse…” as people object to consolidation’s cost.

      “Consolidation does not save money, but you change who gets it” ~Marty Strange

      Those on the losing end of this “cost shifting” are right to fight. Sharing should be mutually beneficial.

      I care very much about ALL children – not just the ones at Katahdin. I recognize, though, that the “best” solution may well differ wildly one side to the other, and even between children or groups of children within each side. I would NEVER support an idea that hurt SACS children to benefit mine. There is no virtue in “sameness”. “Sameness” is NOT all equitable.

      The most child-centered decisions are made by policymakers closest to them – regional boards tend to hurt some to benefit other. No community should be barred from pursuing optimal policies for their taxpayers and children for the desires of another. Some of the solutions I put forth do not affect SACS very much. By the same token, though, there are opportunities at SACS that would not benefit Katahdin children either. The research speaks to one such idea: consolidating K-12 into one building on the Katahdin side rather than pulling more students in the same grade from a larger area:

      “….Don’t Confuse Small Schools with “Schools Within a School” Many people realize that large schools are far from ideal places in which to teach and learn. Creating schools-within-a-school (SWaS) is one strategy for reducing school size. It is appropriate only to make use of an existing large high school building; it is not advisable to build a new facility so that it can be turned into SWaS. In more sparsely populated rural areas, a SWaS still draws students from a wide geographic area, so that many of them travel long distances to and from school. Busing is expensive and affects students and their families in many negative ways. An alternate, beneficial strategy for using an existing large building is to reconfigure the grade span in the facility to include students from kindergarten through 12th grade. In rural areas, drawing students from a wider age range will increase the pool, narrow the geographic area in which they live, and cut their transportation time to and from school. In any area, there are many social and pedagogical benefits to bringing students of all ages together, as well as benefits from making the school more accessible to the community. The best SWaS will serve elementary, middle, and high school students within the same facility….”

      I welcome this opportunity to confront the sort of thinking that is driving current Board decision making. My attempts to do so at Board meetings have been met with flat refusal to engage, purple-faced anger at the most innocent question and foaming at the mouth for speaking to the Board as an equal. Though our readership is robust, to say the least, I wish even more people could see it.


    • …There are some who cling, stubbornly, to the outdated view that bigger schools are necessarily better schools. Despite the fact that there is no research evidence to support this view, well meaning but misguided and ill-informed policy makers continue to pursue the closure and consolidation of small neighborhood and community schools. They pursue this agenda apparently unaware that the educational community has moved on from this mid-twentieth view to embrace the educational opportunities available to students in small schools. Despite paying lip-service to “evidence based decision making,” some educational leaders seemingly ignore the growing body of evidence that clearly indicate that smaller schools are to be preferred over larger ones.

      One has to wonder if these folks can read!…”



  5. Pingback: Readers’ Discuss…. | Timbered Classrooms...

  6. Do you type long-winded diatribes at 2am about everything that “doesn’t matter much” to you? – No. Just the time when I decided to reply.

    “I welcome this opportunity to confront the sort of thinking that is driving current Board decision making. My attempts to do so at Board meetings have been met with flat refusal to engage, purple-faced anger at the most innocent question and foaming at the mouth for speaking to the Board as an equal.” – I can see that. You come across as the kind of person that is right up in your face, wants things done your way, if things aren’t done your way then it’s the wrong way, and you’re not afraid to get loud and vocal in order to be heard. Just from having this debate with you online I can tell that you are probably difficult to deal with in person. Nothing wrong with that. But it makes people not want to listen to you or work with you.

    You keep showing quotes of people that are talking about “large schools.” I’m not sure what you consider a large school, but if consolidation were to take place, 250-400 students in one school, K-12, is not a big school. 800+ students in grades 9-12 in one building is a big school in the state of Maine, and there are only 15 of them. Of course they’re all more densely populated areas from Bangor south, but hey, to each his own.

    Since you are so passionate about everything that you’re doing, why aren’t you a member on the school board? Have you tried running and getting elected?

    Good luck in your pursuit of a fix to this problem. You’ve got a lot of pride and passion, and an over-abundance of resources/information. I hope things go more smoothly for you in the rest of this mind-numbing process over the next couple of years.


    • How do have an “over-abundance of resources and information”?

      It takes humility to withhold judgement and seek out the facts wherever they lead – as much information as possible.

      Anti-intellectualism, rejecting research and rushing to baseless judgements
      about people and issues is the epitome of ignorance as well as arrogance.

      Evidently you know less about me personally than you do education policy.

      You are assuming that the “purple faced” temper tantrums emanating from certain Board members are somehow justified by “loud” or poor manners. Feigned outrage” meets even the most polite questioning and is a clumsy attempt to discredit. I am in fact a rather soft- spoken and polite person who has taken great care NOT to allow the Board to deflect the debate from the merits to my manners. I stand by my decorum here, in meetings and elsewhere.

      My voice has a right and responsibility to follow my children and I do not need their permission to be an informed engaged citizen.

      Here is yet another thing you do not know, as if it wasn’t enough to fill a library already: as a resident of the Unorganized Territory I am not eligible to run for the Board. The UT tuitions children to RSU 50. I have no vote, no Board representation and no power. The Board has prevented my from speaking to them on that basis alone preferring to simply cash the checks and waste the money as it will. The Supt. even stated that we have school choice, but it is hard to imagine any Board treating parents who choose their district so abominably. Our own Superintendent Mrs. Lane alone decides where the bus goes – we do not have a “choice” there.

      I wish I didn’t have to do this. I much prefer the volunteering I do on field trips, the Performing Arts Club etc. I brought my experience with this to the fore as a friend to the Board. It was clear from their reaction that it was the message not my “tone” that offended them. They want that money regardless of the cost to anyone.


  7. “Many who think they are workers in politics are really merely tools.” – Lord Salisbury

    “Don’t hang around with people that think they are better than you. They will boss you around, cause trouble, and then blame you for it.” – Unknown quote

    “There are certain people that think they are better than other certain people. That is the source of the problem with society.” – Unknown quote

    “Meetings are a great trap. Soon you find yourself trying to get agreement and then the people who disagree come to think they have a right to be persuaded. However, they are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.” – John Kenneth Galbraith

    “There are a lot of people who think that’s what’s needed to be successful is always being right, always being careful, always picking the right path.” – Amy Tan


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