Consolidation Promises Tested

imageWAGM reported on the “real possibility” of consolidation early in October. See it here: here

Many of our readers were disappointed that the reporter allowed the Superintendent’s claims to go unchallenged and even unquestioned, the reporter insisting he presented “facts”.  What has happened to journalism?

Below, a Timbered Classrooms response to excerpts (in purple) from WAGM’s interview:

“They all have some potential saving the ones with the most potential saving are the high school $572,000 one way and $512,000 the other way. You have to remember that all of these scenarios have an increase in one area, transportation, we are adding about 200,000 there and we are still saving nearly $600,000.” -Supt. Mike Hammer

Neither $572,000 nor $512,000 are “nearly” $600,000.          $28,000 – $88,000 is serious money.  What could teachers provide children with a sum considered a rounding error by Administrators?

Not so fast, though. A more recent  letter from the Supt. warned, “…each town may not witness the full savings … because we want to add educational offerings into the budget…” -Supt. Mike Hammer

“Hammer says a shrinking student body is a large part of the reason for the situation. The number students lost in the district over the past few years has been double the projections, losing 45 students in that time. He says those loses really affect the students.”

It isn’t the losses of enrollees that affect the students. It is the choices made by the Board and Superintendent surrounding their profligate use of available resources.  In a vicious cycle, those choices drive enrollment declines. Listening to parents would certainly improve the accuracy of your “projections”.

But there is the elephant in the room. Enrollment will continue to decline.  There are ways to turn smallness to an asset as demonstrated by other small schools.  Continuing to chase scale you will never achieve relegates our children to unnecessary mediocrity and taxpayers to unnecessary expense and diminished value for their dollars.

“A growing body of North American research is exploding the myth and now suggests smaller schools are not only better for students but more cost effective for school Boards…”

He also says that combining Katahdin Middle/High School Athletics and Southern Aroostook Athletics, would make them perennially good.

All these teams could be competing with each other. I think we could be competing for Eastern Maine championships. Let’s put that on the table.”-MH

What is “on the table” for kids who relished being needed to play for their local school but are cut from your new “competitive sports teams”?  So much for “maximizing opportunity”…

“I think if we put them together they would have more opportunities more electives larger class sizes for more discussion.”

People always “think” this – and inevitably disappointed:

“While this has a certain common sense appeal, examination of the research reveals that there simply is no reliable relationship between school size and curriculum quality. For one thing, researchers have found that “it takes a lot of bigness to add a little variety”—that is, “on the average a 100% increase in enrolment yields only a 17% increase in variety of offerings” (Pittman and Haughwout, 1997). Moreover, “[t]he strength of the relationship between school size and curricular offerings diminishes as schools become larger…” – Education on a Human Scale. Read the full report here and visit our “School Consolidation” tab for more evidence.

“Larger class sizes for more discussion”??? …said no school brochure ever.

Very funny.

No, sad; children struggling under heartbreaking circumstances in their lives need the small classes demanded for children of the fortunate in order to reach their full potential.

“impoverished regions in particular benefit from smaller schools and districts and can suffer irreversible damage if consolidation Occurs.

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7 responses to “Consolidation Promises Tested

  1. I think the Superintendent could care less about our communities. Probably he came here because no one else would hire him. Now. Mr. Hammer, money is an issue, our district spends too much!! Taking our schools out of our community is a horrible idea. What do you care, you do not live here. I hope you will find a job elsewhere and soon.

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    • He does not care about Mt. Chase, Patten, Stacyville or Sherman. He was hired by Board representatives from Island Falls who saw an opportunity to take money and resources out of Katahdin for their own benefit. Mr. Hammer was hired to serve their agenda just as Mr. Malone was.
      No one is even pretending Katahdin communities or kids will benefit! The Chairman said “we are throwing our kids under the bus because SACS is closer to Region 2”! Now the Supt. warns communities will not see all the savings? They won’t see any! There will be nothing but costs.

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      • This whole thing is such a sham! They don’t even seem to care that they will lose enrollment! They promise more, but another lie! Things have gone so down hill since we joined this horrible RSU! The worst thing is we lost our voice and control!

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        • They don’t care. They must know enrollment will continue to decline and when they burn all that diesel sending busses out into the countryside for fewer kids they will be back for more . They have already floated the idea of having parents transport kids to centralised drop off points and will starve and close the elementary school despite their promises. They’ll carry on about “tough choices” Take your checkbook away from these people!

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    • Please understand that Superintendents take direction from the Board – including and especially Chairman Phil Knowles who is supposed to guard Sherman’s interests are driving this. That is why a new Supt. won’t matter.
      I could not understand why people were so hopeful that Mike Hammer would want to run Katahdin to its full potential.
      He was handpicked to do the opposite.

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      • So sad, that board members donor represent their communities. My kids will not go to SACS, simply because it is too far!! Can the board and the Superintendent not get that!!

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        • They could see that if their own children were on a bus to nowhere.

          I’ve studied consolidation for a long time and there IS no such thing as “too far” for OTHER people’s children. Not when there is money on each little head.

          Where will you send your children as an alternative? Do you want to leave the RSU?

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