Category Archives: School Funding

“Beware the Oversimplifiers…”

20070125_MDIslanderCartoon“…a century of consolidation has already produced most of the efficiencies obtainable. Indeed, in the largest jurisdictions, efficiencies have likely been exceeded—that is, some consolidation has produced diseconomies of scale that reduce efficiency. In such cases, deconsolidation is more likely to yield benefits than consolidation. Moreover, 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….”

Read the full study here:


From The Maine Center For Economic Policy



Education Funding Falters in Maine; Has Serious Repercussions


Futures Task Force Findings – FINAL

lavendar cougar


The work of the Futures Task Force completed, Timbered Classrooms would like to share with our readers a copy of its conclusions.  Many thanks to our readers who brought this to my attention.  How did I miss it?  Good question, but thank goodness for you!  Trying diligently to bite my tongue, (or my fingers!), for the  moment, anyway, I hope YOU won’t!  We always love to hear from you, whatever your views.  I have a great deal of confidence that our readers will perform a careful, critical reading and ask the deeper questions this report undoubtedly raises.

RSU 50 FTF Report (1) FINAL



A Sneak Peek At The Times

The following has been submitted to the Houlton Pioneer Times for publication.  Please join Timbered Classrooms in thanking the author, David Robinson, both for speaking out, and for offering our readers a first  look…



“I am concerned about the RSU 50 budget negotiations because of my lack of confidence in the superintendent. During the budget validation meeting of 2013-2014 superintendent Malone pointed out to the citizens that he was under no obligation to abide by any agreement he may enter into during the process. Further he made clear that he also is not obligated to operate within the budget guidelines once a budget is approved. for example; a town manager is required to spend the towns money as set out in each of the warrants approved during the towns annual budget meeting, the superintendent is under no such requirement. The RSU 50 business manager numerous times during the meeting had to speak for the superintendent as he seemed to be adrift on the inner workings of the budget.

How can I vote for the 2014-2015 budget that doesn’t pass the stink test. We have reportedly got between 700 and 800 students with a budget of nearly 10 million dollars this is ridiculous.

We voted down this years budget and what does the board do ? Agree to cutting building maintenance and resubmit the budget to the public for a 29 July validation meeting. Well, this was last years threat, why cut building maintenance? Here is why, the superintendent wants a new school, so, if he cuts the maintenance of buildings he can down the line, blame the public for the poor condition of the buildings and enhance his argument for needing a new school. I have no idea what is going to happen with this money if the budget is approved. For sure though I know the superintendent will hire who ever he wants, and let go who ever he wants. He will spend the funds however he wants. He will tell us whatever is needed to pass a budget. It is time for the school board to act and find a superintendent with integrity and a budget that makes sense.    No excuses.”  ~David Robinson





A Timbered Bookshelf – “From Schoolhouse to Schooling System: Maine Public Education in the 20th Century” by Gordon A. Donaldson Jr. Ed.D.

“From Schoolhouse to Schooling System traces Maine’s efforts to educate its children and youth through the twentieth century. It is a story of high ambitions, changing economic fortunes, and the struggle to shape widespread community schools into a coherent system. Donaldson’s book offers a richly detailed description of the past and the lessons it serves up for the future.” ~Maine Authors Publishing


“From Schoolhouse to Schooling System: Maine Public Education in the 20th Century examines schools in six communities, Peru, Anson, Lubec, Houlton, Cumberland, and Bangor…”

“…The state’s forced consolidation of schools “was a case of 1920s-style thinking being applied to the 21st century world,” Donaldson said.  He also said the trend of grouping teachers in larger schools for the purpose of professional improvement was outdated by 1980.  “By that time, professional development and knowledge were readily available, and sending students to larger schools held no value.” he said.  “So the 2007 consolidation law made next to zero sense educationally”, Donaldson said

Read the entire review from “The Ellsworth American” here


School Board Candidates Should Show Serious Engagement With Current Topics in Education | Rethinking Education

This should be required reading for School Board members, and those considering a seat!  ….as should Kathreen Harrison’s blog, “Rethinking Education”, featured on the Bangor Daily News’ Blogroll.

How might her suggestions help us improve education in RSU #50?

image“‘…an understanding of history, civics, geography, mathematics, and science, so they may comprehend unforeseen events and act wisely; the ability to speak, write, and read English well; mastery of a foreign language; engagement in the arts, to enrich their lives; close encounters with great literature, to gain insight into timeless dilemmas and the human condition; a love of learning, so they continue to develop their minds when their formal schooling ends; self-discipline, to pursue their goals to completion; ethical and moral character; the social skills to collaborate fruitfully with others; the ability to use technology wisely; the ability to make and repair useful objects, for personal independence; and the ability to play a musical instrument, for personal satisfaction.’~Diane Ravitch

“Many Maine school districts mention 21st century skills in their mission statements and strategic plans – yet most of our plans of study, and classrooms, remain essentially as they were half a century ago. We have adopted the rhetoric of school change while remaining fundamentally unchanged.

School boards, administrators, and teachers all contribute to setting the direction of a school district, however a district’s school board is the final decision-maker. If we want the less forward-thinking of our schools in Maine to catch up to those many years ahead of us in the direction of positive school change, we need school board members who are familiar with the educational landscape outside their own towns.

I suggest that potential candidates for school board should be required to visit exemplary schools in Maine and elsewhere before announcing their candidacy. They should be asked to share with the electorate their vision of excellent schools and their ideas for how to help schools achieve that vision. They should be required to demonstrate an informed engagement with topics in the national educational dialogue.

Decisions made by school boards impact the lives of students in their care. Those decisions should be based on knowledge about education. I urge school boards to adopt policies that will guarantee rigorous debate and informed decision-making.”

via School Board Candidates Should Show Serious Engagement With Current Topics in Education | Rethinking Education.


monopoly“…it is becoming apparent that any significant savings to the towns, or increased opportunities for students will only come from the elimination of duplication of services….”

~Larry Malone, RSU #50 Superintendent

Read the pdf of Superintendent Malone’s letter to Municipal officials, et. al.:

Letter From The Superintendent of RSU #50



My school system is abuzz with the Common Core: is this a good thing? | Rethinking Education

To be fair, the switch to Standards-Based Education, and the Common Core does treat poor children as though they were rich in one aspect:  they have to pay handsomely.  With towns and the State slashing even the most vital areas, where do we find the resources?  Our thanks to Kathreen Harrison for this spot-on piece:

tiger-bee-inside-an-apple-ivan-rijhoffMy school system is abuzz with the Common Core: is this a good thing? | Rethinking Education

“I don’t like it when wealthy children are treated to one kind of education and the rest are treated to something different. It makes me suspect the children of the lower and middle classes are probably getting a rotten deal.  Here’s how three of these private schools introduce their schools to prospective parents. Note that while these extracts are admittedly brief, when I browsed the websites I found no mention at all of either standards-based education or the Common Core.”

“…we need to refrain from burdening our teachers with ever-increasing rules and regulations. Our focus should be on attracting and training top students to the teaching profession, candidates who find fulfillment in exploring their intellectual and artistic passions with young minds. To attract these students we need to give teachers conditions in which they will thrive: abundant time for thinking, planning and collaborating with their colleagues; salaries that compete with those of pharmacists, lawyers, and engineers; respect from administrators and the public; freedom to do the best work of which they are capable.

The Common Core is not the answer. If it were, the schools for training the future elite would be embracing it, and they are not. Instead they are heavily promoting  intellectually and artistically rich communities. All students deserve schools like these.

Read the full, and thought-provoking post here:

My school system is abuzz with the Common Core: is this a good thing? | Rethinking Education.

Dear Legislators: What’s the point of issuing education mandates that you’re not going to fund? | Rethinking Education

…a question that cries out for an answer.  Many thanks to Kathreen Harrison for posing it, and outlining what so many of us may not know about what requirements entail:

Snail house. French children's book

 Dear Legislators: What’s the point of issuing education mandates that you’re not going to fund? | Rethinking Education.

“…The Maine Legislature passed LD 1422 in 2012. This is the law that mandates that schools transition to a standards-based education system. The transition does not come cheap. One superintendent estimated the total costs involved in standards-based education were at least approximately $60,000 per year; another district administrator said they had spent roughly $500,000 on professional development regarding standards-based education implementation. Yet the state decreased its financial contribution to education just at the time it passed this expensive mandate. The intent is for the local taxpayer to pay more……”

Visions and Values; Pondering the Public Forum…

6a00e5509ea6a1883401901d26bffd970bMany thanks to everyone who came out to the Visions Committee’s Public Forum last night, and sharing your core values with those who will be making some very serious decisions, and soon.

If you were there — read on!  I welcome additions/corrections in the “Comments” section; if not — read on!  It is not too late to let the Committee know how YOU envision the future of education here.

Table discussions revolved around changes in the community and the economy in addition to schools, and a gallery of post-it notes illustrated the feelings; the values of the people present.  Just before adjourning, we were given copies of draft Vision Statement, Mission Statement and Core Beliefs on which to scribble suggestions.  Here they are!  Any suggestions YOU make to revise them will be shared with the committee…..

RSU 50 Vision Statement (The Schools We Strive For)

“Provide an equitable, challenging, and personalized student education system, which fosters an excitement for learning that prepares each student for college, careers and global citizenship.”

RSU 50 Mission Statement (What We Do To Get There)

“Develop and advocate for sustainable educational policies, effective school leadership, challenging curriculum, proven instructional practices, and diverse student-centered learning models provided in a safe, healthy, and respectful environment built on strong community partnerships.”

RSU 50 Core Beliefs (What We Act Upon)

1)  “We believe student success is our top priority, and their voices will be heard.”

2)  “We believe each school provides a safe, caring, and supportive learning environment that fosters innovation, creativity, wellness, teamwork, and self-expression for everyone through diverse experiences.  This is achieved by celebrating the preserving the unique character of our communities, where families and schools are in partnership.

3)  “We believe success is attainable for all students, holding them to high expectations.  This is achieved by providing instruction by high-quality teachers who will provide students with skills, behaviors and knowledge to be productive citizens by modeling civic responsibility, social justice and multicultural understanding.”

“*Core beliefs will be reviewed based on the work provided tonight.  Please feel free to add comments as well.”

The emphasis on that last bit is my own.  The Committee will be revising the above statements based on what they hear from YOU.  The next meeting date is, as yet, unavailable, but when I find out I’ll post it.  It doesn’t matter how you choose to contact the Committee — either directly, or, of course, if you want to post here I will see that they have it….  But please, get in touch.  Have your say.

From MSAD #25 to RSU #50 — Where are the Savings?

ImageSeriously?  Where are they?  Let’s don some green eye-shades and look over the numbers.  I know — not my idea of a great time either, but with so much at stake, here…..

I am posting the “Before” and “After” budgets sans analysis because, well, many heads are better than one.  …..and, I confess, all of them are better than mine.

So, without further ado…!

2010-2011 School Budgets Compared

Please share your thoughts and expertise with us in the Comments section!


…a driving force….

...a driving force....

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About The EPS Funding Model… ….But We’re Afraid To Ask…

tumblr_maekpoNZkV1rpbbf5o1_500How inequity is baked in to the EPS School Funding Model; how EPS became hijacked as a spending cap…..

For thoughtful, comprehensive and independent analysis of Essential Programs and Services, click here:

Opportunity knocks!


Hired to facilitate our newly-joined communities in developing a vision for the RSU, Craig Kesselheim of Great Schools Partnership announced in his recent presentation of his desire to form a working group to begin its craft.  According to Mr. Kesselheim, this committee could comprise any number of people…  Wait, let me check my notes… Continue reading

“Cost-shifting threatens local education”

Timbered Classrooms...

An insightful piece by Rep. Brian Hubbell about why local communities are so strained.


“No wonder local communities are frustrated and angry,  They are paying more than ever and their schools are still being forced to cut school programs.”


Add to this, the “cost-shifting” within the district; from the more powerful school to the one targeted for closure.  Taxpayers and children alike bear the brunt…..

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