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“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

Though taxpayers dislike the spending priorities outlined within, the budget passed last night without changing a dime.  The additional $68,000 appropriated by the state has been consumed in its entirety by an Assistant Principal position. 

When the Board was questioned about a letter Timbered Classrooms received about an offer on the table from a teacher to serve in dual capacity in the post for less money.  The questioner was unceremoniously accused of “gossip” in spite of having the highly credible letter in hand (the name of the writer was obscured to “protect the innocent” so to speak.)

Is this the way to treat the people whose money you are spending? …and whose permission you need at the ballot box to spend it in the manner you propose?

The Superintendent went on to say that the position “would be posted” and that they would not give the position away for less money when others may be more qualified.

Of course they are going to “post” the position! IT IS THE LAW.  Those close to the situation however firmly believe that the candidate has effectively been selected already and the cost would be the full budgeted amount.  The Board did not elaborate on the teacher’s qualifications versus those of their chosen candidate, but their concern in that area rings hollow as they have consistently opted for inexperienced faculty due to the cost of their more experienced counterparts.  The most accomplished teacher still commands a lower salary than an entry level administrator for some inexplicable reason given the disproportionate influence of faculty on Kids.  Remember them?

The Board forgets that those who pay the bills have the final say. Hopefully The communities will not.

The budget validation vote will be held Tuesday August 11 at  community’s polling places.

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5 responses to “

  1. I have tried really, really hard to see all sides of this.. Stating many times I love Katahdin as it is my alumni.. I love Sacs it is where my children go. I;m not sure if you attended the meeting last night or not.. But I will tell you there was no accusing of gossip. That is ridiculous and quite frankly sounds like paranoia. When you post links of other schools, others opinions that are similar to your own its fact. When others post numbers and facts its considered assumptions.. I have come to the assumed conclusion you want an Us against Them mentality.. We have stake in this also, Kids that will be effected. It’s not all about you “loosing” I haven’t heard a date of when they are going to close any school. But if the budget continues to fail and they is no money to effectively teach it will be sooner rather than later..

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    • I appreciate your trying to see all perspectives. You see the the position of Katahdin’s communities better than you might think.

      More about that in a minute, but I have spoken with the person, who, from the podium, asked the Board about the proposal to allow a teacher seeking Superintendent’s certification. She has confirmed once again that Superintendent Hammer, in fact, characterized it as “gossip”. She suggested that perhaps, as the Superintendent had no microphone and spoke quickly with his head down you may have missed it.

      Given independent confirmation, and the credibility of the letter I stand by the report.

      We know how the hiring process works – by law the position must be advertised. We also know that in many cases policymakers preselect a candidate and never give serious consideration to new inquiries. Rejection of the idea was informal – it could not have been otherwise. I would hope that all interested candidates submit resumes and would receive serious consideration. Further, I would hope the Board would give equal consideration to teachers who are equally apt to get “burned out” traveling back and forth and receive no travel stipend.

      The RSU was supposed to save money in administrative lines, and return those dollars to the classroom or taxpayers. Predictably, neither happened. It will not happen after Katahdin is closed and absorbed into SACS. If there were better opportunity on the other end of the long bus ride you would put other people’s children on, I would put my own on it in a heartbeat. But there isn’t.

      On some level you realize that too. You are not advocating closing SACS and sending kids to Houlton where they offer more classes. I don’t know anyone who would advocate that you shutter SACS to benefit Katahdin or anyone else.

      The “us against them mentality”? Divesting educational resources from everywhere within 400+ square miles to invest in one place is inherently divisive, and a recipe for creating winners and losers. The idea that only one campus can survive financially; that some children must be “thrown under the bus” (Phil Knowles’ words) to benefit other is very much an “us and them” attitude. One school trying to gobble up the other? Not anyone’s idea of mutually beneficial sharing.

      An AOS model of sharing honors the “every child matters” mantra that this Board says but undermines at every turn.

      There is something fundamentally unethical about demanding a neighboring community abandon its infrastructure and put its children and money on busses against their own best financial and social interests. …even worse to try and force such a thing. The RSU makes it legal, but does not solve the moral question.

      We published the very same numbers that you cite some time ago, sans analysis that readers could form their own opinions, here: https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/from-msad-to-rsu-where-are-the-savings/
      ..and then here: https://atimberedchoir.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/where-have-all-the-savings-gone/ where a spirited discussion ensued.

      Cost benefit analyses are going to differ depending on where you live in the 400 square miles of district.

      Early in Baldacci’s School Reorganization initiative, he sought an even bigger district for us that included Houlton Hodgdon and northern towns in RSU 29. Had that occurred, SACS may well have been targeted for closure.

      I agree with you that Katahdin will close if it cannot extract itself from the RSU model, but not on any educational or financial merits. They are not even trying to win the debate, because even they know it isn’t there. Just deception and power… I wish the communities well dealing with all of this.

      As the very wise man quoted above, Katahdin’s communities cannot save their children and tax dollars “without a fight”.

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  2. What I heard Mr. Hammer say is “I do not know anything about that” “We will advertised and hire the best possible candidate” I was sitting just as close as the person at the “podium” (there was no podium) As you stated that is the law.. Just because a person out of the goodness of their heart would be willing to accept the position does not make them the best candidate.

    Now you are the one “assuming”. I would have no problem with my child going to Houlton.. Or Katadhin for that matter.. Busing would not be an issue for me I would take my child or car pool with other parents. I run all over the state for sports, I can certainly do it for school..

    The cost savings has been there as our taxes have not gone up in several years.. These three schools have been maintained the last 3 years with really no increase in cost.. I honestly do not think this would be the case had we not formed the RSU.. I wish the towns luck in the withdrawal process.. If it successful I wish you even more luck maintaining the schools on your own. Good news is you will have a roof with some maintenance done before that happens..

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    • People on both sides of the district; with more educational expertise than exists on this Board, agree that the RSU is “top heavy”. The Board has defiantly kept it that way.

      It would be as wrong to assume that a teaching principal is somehow less qualified as it would be to assume that the Board’s expensive pre-selected candidate is the most. Let the process work.

      The Board should advertise for a teaching principal, and then select the best from that field. Failure to do so plays in to accusations of inflating bureaucracy. It would also be entirely appropriate for a teacher to craft a proposal to serve in dual capacity and deserves serious consideration.

      Others present at that meeting assert that, indeed, Supt. Hammer denied knowledge of such a possibility but continue to insist that he also characterized it as “gossip”. I don’t believe that anyone is lying, and there is no way to settle it. I have long said meetings should be recorded.

      Your “taxes have not gone up in several years”? OURS have! That “savings” you describe; repairing roofs without raising, apparently, YOUR taxes, …came on the backs of kids and should have been done on the backs of bureaucracy that voters have wanted to cut for some time.

      If you have “no problem” bussing your children, why then, do you support keeping the most expensive building in the district open? Why not send your children to Houlton? Why refuse to do what you want Katahdin’s communities to do?

      Because the “problems” you have with the idea are exactly the same as the very real problems that would hurt Katahdin’s children taxpayers and businesses.

      I detect more than a hint of resentment over spending money on Katahdin Elementary’s roof. I am not directly involved in withdrawal because Benedicta is not in the district to begin with. Why wouldn’t you advocate for sharing in an AOS model? We would still share central office and other administrative costs, but Katahdin would pay for its own roof and other bills. …as would SACS. THAT’S what real “sharing” looks like.

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  3. See there you go assuming again.. I am but one person.. I have not advocated to keep any school open. If our school closes I will then make my decision based on what is most effective for my child.. Just as anyone would in that situation. I have never advocated against an AOS model..I could care less which school closes or if we decide to become an AOS….We have amazing teachers over here, that have taught for many, many years.. They have my utmost respect .. Would I want them to be the ones educating my child? Absolutely..What I have advocated for a budget regardless of what you feel is top heavy that has not increased with any significance in 5 years.. As I have said before It is time to get things done.. Which ever the case my be.. But in the here and now we have a budget that has little to no increase to keep THREE schools open..

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