“Timbered Classroom”‘s 1st SURVEY RESULTS

Your views…. A Compilation of Our Ongoing Survey

RSU 50 Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO)

1. I am a…..(please check all that apply)
answered question 49
skipped question
Community member
40.8% 20
Parent (child attends KES)
16.3% 8
Parent (child attends KMHS)
40.8% 20
Parent (child attends SACS) 0.0% 0
Student (Katahdin)
26.5% 13
Student (SACS)
2.0% 1
2. Did you support the formation of RSU 50 at the time the RSU Law was adopted?
answered question 52
skipped question
7.7% 4
76.9% 40
                            No Opinion
15.4% 8
Other thoughts 9

“I was not a resident of the community at the time, however if I was, I would not support it.”

“Being a Maine state employee, I was skeptical the process related to the level of success expected.”

“I was never in support of any type of consolidation, even dating back to when we closed the small schools in Sherman and Patten.”

‘There didn’t appear to be any viable options at the time. The State was threatening us with penalties if we didn’t comply. Unsure why we didn’t pursue the AOS structure as an option for a combination of MSAD #25 and Southern Aroostook.’

“I have many concerns as to what all of the consolidations will do to our communities. As I and many others see it , they keep saying it will save us money. But so far this has’nt turned out to be the truth.I think they want to herd us all together like sheep so it is easier to control us. Then they can do as they please if they have the right people behind them. Personaly I think parents need to look at the Charter schools and see how they perform and what the costs are to operate them. Also I believe administration is costing a lot more then is necessary. The notion that the superintendent needs four secretaries seems a little ridiculous to me. Not too mention the hugh salary he receives for his job. I think he needs to work a little harder for his money don’t you?”

“I was under the impression that if we did not join the RSU that our school would be penalized.”

“This RSU stuff is just costing more money instead of saving all this money like it was suppose too!”

“I would never support RSU 50 because we have gained nothing but terrible things from the SACHS administration. Our education has had a terrible downfall what with the loss of wonderful teachers and classes we actually enjoyed’

“We were basically told by administration that we had no choice. They put the fear of fines, etc. out there. We were led to believe that our kids would have more programs offered as a result of sharing resources and that costs would be lowered as a result of shared administration.”

3. Has the RSU performed as expected?

answered question 52
skipped question
Better than I expected 0.0% 0
About the same as I expected
19.2% 10
Worse than I expected
80.8% 42
Your thoughts? 16

“Following the media and all they have to report, comparing that to what I have heard reported out by the RSU….I see few savings and reduced course offerings for our students.”

“Nothing in the Rsu can or will solve the problems”

“This is because I did not expect much to begin with. I have unfortunately not seen any real positive benefits of the consolidation. What I have seen is what I feared, which is the downsizing of needed programs such as music and physical education. And then conversely, I di not see how we have shared much administration, other than the superintendent, I may be wrong, but I believe we were promised more shared administration. I believe voters were lead by fear of the financial penalties if we opposed the formation of the RSU, and those penalties never came to fruition.”

“The concept behind the sales pitch from Augusta was to combine/reduce administrative costs – specifically Superintendents. MSAD #25/Southern Aroostook now do indeed share a Superintendent but it appears that other layers of administrative positions are now being introduced into RSU 50. I question the need for the number of administrative positions considering the number of students we have in RSU 50. I think the expectation of savings was always elusive. As long as we continue to rely on the Federal and State governments for financial assistance (even though it is still our money) they will continue to dictate how we educate our students.”

“I don’t think the RSU has lived up to the hipe. The school budget keeps going up but no real improvments in the school system. They let a good gym teacher go that was more in tune with the students and was physically fit to keep up with them. Also this double dipping that we are seeing is getting old. Why can’t they just retire and let younger teachers in and give them a chance to do the job.”

“Financially I do not believe the RSU has done anything for our school.”

“Katahdin is losing teachers left and right that provided a quality learning experience for the students of the high school. Many courses have been cut due to lost funding, but obviously SAC is getting enough funding. Since they are both under the same wings, maybe SAC should have its funding cut so Katahdin can have Mr. Evan Clark, and Mr. Matt Lindsay back as teachers.”

“There have been way too many administrative positions created, when it was supposed to cut back on them. Haven’t seen any programs for the students added, as was promised. If they keep spending money like they are, all the taxpayers are going to be in the poor house. Pay scale is not equal at both ends of the district, as well as lots of other things not ‘equal’.”

“They don’t listen to our concerns. They “listen” and move on.”

“It is the worst”

“Same as above and I have never been more disapointed in our school district, administration at Katahdin, school board, and the superintendent. Since hiring me. Larry Malone, no good has happened.”

“It’s sad that the kids don’t want to be in school. Education is failing and have lost a lot of good teachers.”

“THe adminstration needs to listen to parents and what they want”

“In terms of shared administration, the situation is worse. We now have far more administrative costs that were expected.”

Though I was well aware of the pitfalls of district consolidation everywhere else such an initiative has been tried, and the mechanisms by which they occur; shifts in resources from one school to another as one is “starved” to spur its closure, money funneled from faculty to administration….. What I see here, is even worse than I predicted.”

“This has saved us nothing and has only made school stressful and difficult for the students. Since the adoption of the RSU, there hasn’t been a year without plenty of new changes. It’s like starting at a new school every year with the same people…”

4. Has your position on the implementation of the RSU law remained the same or changed? Why?

answered questionSkipped Question 502

“I have not seen the savings result in positive change for the students. At Katahdin it seems the reverse is true.”

“For reasons that i have stated above.”

“It makes me extremely angry that we formed the RSU with little to no return. Surrounding communities, Medway, East Millinocket, and Millinocket are only 8-11 miles and were not forced to consolidate. To my knowledge they suffered no penalties.”

“I thought the RSU was a horrible idea to begin with and know I know that my thoughts were correct.”

“It was not well thought out to begin with, and all I can see in the future is increased taxes at the rate this school board and superintendent are spending money”

“Over the past year or so, my feelings toward the RSU have become extremely negative.”

“No, after everything bad that has happened at our school, there is no way I could support anyone who agrees with the things going on at that school”

“It seems that everything is going to the southern aroostook side of the district. The superintendent is spending way too much money. There are new positions being created, i-pads, etc.”

“I feel that once you lose local control, parents lose say in their children’s education. Education declines and more money is spent.”

My position remains unchanged
88.0% 44
I have changed my mind
12.0% 6
5. Do you support or oppose withdrawal from the RSU by the communities of the former MSAD #25? Why?
answered question 49
skipped question
I support the RSU withdrawal initiative
89.8% 44
I oppose the RSU withdrawal initiative
10.2% 5
Why? 18

“I support to withdraw from the RSU because we would be better in the long run. As I understand it, we didn’t have any debt when we went into the RSU. Now we are in debt.”

“I do not have an opinion on this matter until more facts have been presented. I want to see the numbers and what exactly they represent. How will this make programing for students better while being afordable for citizens?”

‘Southern Aroostook should pay for their own expenses that accumulated over the years due to their neglecting needed maintenance. also, the board has admitted that they want a new school building. I do not believe it is necessary. we were told by some that this would save money, it hasn’t and won’t. I also don’t trust this superintendant to level with the community”.

“Currently undecided, but leaning more towards supporting a withdrawal. The problem is that starting from scratch with no resources, building, staff, etc. will be a huge burden and I’m not sure how it can be done at this point. We would definitely need direction and community discussion,”

“I don’t oppose withdrawal as long as we have a viable alternative. It is my belief that we need all four original MSAD #25 towns to be supportive of withdrawal. Without them we would be tuitioning our kids without any representation.”

“I don’t think any money will be saved. The administration, I believe will continue to grow and it will just become more and more expensive. Because thats how corporations work!”

“Absolutely no benefit to the RSU. I have not seen the administrative cuts that we’re supposed to happen.”

“decline in education and cost”

“I think we can do much better on our own”.

“We need out. Simple as that. To get things on the right track, we need to get out and away from Larry Malone and his administration”

“I hope the community helps to get out of the rsu.”

“I support withdrawal so that we can go back to the former SAD 25. But we need to know the cost.”

“There has to be a more efficient way to operate our schools than what is now being done by the rsu.”

“We have lost many of our favorite and great teachers.”

“I knew there would be pressure to starve the Katahdin end of the district, and direct resources toward SACS, but expected at least a modicum of resistance from Board members representing us. With the exception of Kim Lane, the Board not only fails to stem this flow, but is an accomplice to it”.

“Need to know how much the move would save taxpayers”.

“too much spending, education is failing in my opinion, members of the board not representing their community-only doing what the superintendant wants to do, too many administrative jobs, quality of teaching our kids is terrible!!”

“I believe that our schools can be sustained better by using funding from the sending towns. It would allow the people of both areas to use the budgets the way they want.”

6. Various ideas have arisen during Board meetings, budget discussions and within the surrounding communities. Which of these would you support? Please check all that apply.

answered question 51
skipped question
Remain an RSU, retaining current building array
7.8% 4
Remain an RSU, close Katahdin and transport students to SACS
2.0% 1
Withdraw from RSU, return school governance and infrastructure likened to pre-RSU
58.8% 30
Withdraw from RSU, consolidate Katahdin Elementary into Katahdin Middle and High School building
37.3% 19
Close both Katahdin and Southern Aroostook campuses and construct one new one for all RSU 50 students.
7.8% 4
Withdraw and reform relationship between Katahdin and SACS campuses into an Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS). Administrative offices/costs would be shared, but each campus would maintain separate Boards and finances.
41.2% 21
Other ideas (please describe)

“I have seen both of the above work to the benefit of students and would support exploring how this configuration would affect our region.”

“but the latter only with new administration and run like a business with an eye on expenses only as necessary and concentrating spending on matters for the classroom”

“Undecided, as there are many factors to consider. I definitely would not support the transportation of students from one school to another. I am also not eager to consider closing both schools and building a new one for all. I am leaning more towards keeping both school systems operational. I would consider consolidating the two Katahdin schools together if it was feasible and in the best interests of the students. Ultimately, the 6th choice of sharing administration and keeping finances separate would be something to explore more – provided there really was a downsizing of current administration. In my opinion, for example, there is no need for 4 principals and 4 guidance counselors. If there is no chance of this actually happening, then I would be more supportive of a withdrawal to go back to the way is was before. I will not support the downsizing of more and more resources for students, for example, music, sports, etc. We are top heavy and in my opinion, the money we spend on administrative salaries would be better spent retaining and recruiting actual teachers and instructors. We need to put our kids first, and we need to figure out how to do that!”

“I would like to think the concept of withdrawal and consolidation of the MSAD# 25 buildings is viable. What about ownership of the buildings/assets? A question I do have is what would our educational program look like? Is it possible to offer more courses/choices for the students if we withdraw and consolidate? What about affordability? I would need to see the numbers for each option. Whichever option is finally presented for overall favorable community support will have to be one that is affordable.”

“Cuts need to be made in administration. Instead of consolidating students, need to consolidate teachers.”

“You could always close SACs, and bring all of their students to Katahdin. It seems like there’s some unfair bias going around that school, in suggesting they should stay open longer than KMHS. Both schools contain a lot of bias, homophobia, and excessive religious opinion both among staff and students this year. Maybe burning them both down is an option.”

“If the AOS had passed the first time, I don’t think we would be in the mess we are today. We need to get our of this RSU now, before more damage is done.”

“The school environment was much better when we were MSAD #25. Now, we are all afraid that our school is going to be shut down and we are going to be shipped off to SACS. For some KHS is a safe place away from troubles at home. For others it is a way for them to broaden their horizons, gain new knowledge, and further their talents. Katahdin is such an amazing school on its own. Please don’t shut us down. I think the best thing for everyone would be to pull out of the RSU. When they were first talking about becoming an RSU, they promised that it would only be the school boards and not the schools themselves. They PROMISED that it would continue to be Katahdin High School and Southern Aroostook. Now look, they are turning on their word. I also think that the school board and the superintendent should be seperate. The way that things appear to the community is that Larry Malone is head honcho of the school board and the members are all of his little puppies trailing behind him. They are afraid to say how they actually feel because maybe they don’t feel as if their opinion matters in his eyes. At the budget meeting, the community took a stand and fought for what they wanted. And what we want now is good ole MSAD 25. Bring it back. If we combine schools, parents have already said that they will either homeschool their children or send them to Christian schools. Give the people what they want.”

“We need it like it was. Everything was good then and it would be good to get back to it”

“Want the old s.a.d back”

“Start with a clean slate.”

“Is it really more expensive to educate fewer children? Of course not, but cries of “enrollment is down! We need more students so we can afford to educate them!” …bizarre. It is difficult to imagine anything more INefficient than our dogged attempts to consolidate, bus, build etc. rural children into some imaginary economy of scale. Small schools are, in fact highly efficient, but per-pupil costs alone are misleading. By the way, these initiatives to apply a narrow, business-y idea of efficiency are VERY expensive! Conveniently for their proponents, though, they do not always appear in ppl numbers.”

7. How would you assess the responsiveness of the RSU 50 Administration to your concerns?

answered question 48
skipped question 4
Oblivious Optimally mindful Rating
Board? 52.1% (25) 8.3% (4) 16.7% (8) 2.1% (1) 8.3% (4) 10.4% (5) 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 2.1% (1) 0.0% (0) 2.50 48
Administration? 58.3% (28) 8.3% (4) 4.2% (2) 2.1% (1) 14.6% (7) 6.3% (3) 0.0% (0) 4.2% (2) 2.1% (1) 0.0% (0) 2.58 48
Thoughts or experiences? 12

“There are only a couple of people on the board who actually listen to what the citizens wants. The administration is NOT listening at all and doing what they want.”

“.I have had limited need to communicate with the RSU but on the occasion that I have, KMHS, I was very unsatisfied with the attitude and lack of positive input.’

“I am responding to this question as an employee for the Town of Sherman since that is the only capacity that I have had any experience from which to be able to provide an answer to this question. The administration has been very responsive in providing budget information to the Town of Sherman. Whenever we have contacted the Business Manager with questions or asked for data, Holly Vining has always promptly provided the information. The Superintendent has provided the Towns with a lot of material as well. I may not have always liked the message or the financial data but he has nevertheless provided the information. Both of Sherman’s Board members have communicated with us – by phone, in person and by email. Again, might not have always liked the information provided. It appears that the Board as a whole has a different idea about our future. Does this mean that the residents of the other communities agree with and have communicated directly with their representative Board members? And is the Superintendent initiating the plan for our educational future on his own or is he receiving direction from the Board?’

“not all members of board included”

“not all board members”

“My daughter was sexually harassed by a high school boy who shot photos of her thong when her pants were falling down at lunch, since she was borrowing her older sister’s pants as her others were in the wash. The boy was brought to the office, but since he had already texted the picture to his friends, and deleted it off of his phone so he wouldn’t get caught, no action was taken. The principal literally gave the boy the “benefit of a doubt” instead of at least calling his parents about another student’s suspicion that was later proven by multiple onlookers.”

“The board and administration do not care about the students at all, and are more concerned with furthering their own agenda than providing for the welfare of the students in their care.”

“They are both very oblivious to everything you say. Mr. Malone lie about every thing. And doesn’t even listen to a thing you have to say. Also when you ask a question it never gets answered.”

“I think that all of them are readily controlled by the mind of Larry Malone. They do whatever he wants without thought to what the community wants, the parents or the students. They have done nothing but kill our system.”

“No one listens to the people.”

“A wise woman said recently, “Sometimes they need to be reminded that they hold no authority over parents; over the communities they serve.” The hubris demonstrated by both, and the outright rage at those who dare criticize by certain Board members is appalling. This past Spring, a student sat at a Board meeting, and listened to the Superintendent lie about ever having received a student petition/survey handed him personally by that young man. He heard then-Chairman Phil Knowles bark, “Well, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway!” No concern at all that the Superintendent had withheld material; the feelings of students themselves, no less, entrusted to him for Board review. ….an assertion that students’ feelings “…wouldn’t have mattered anyway!” The Superintendent took that student aside privately, not to apologize, but to regale him with the benefits of further consolidation, even as he offers “personal assurances” to the community that this is not on his agenda. The Chairman answered a pointed letter from a parent with a note (widely circulated) long on rage and short on substance.”

“The superintendent is quite bluntly an idiot that needs Holly Vining to do his job and answer his questions. Plus the board members do whatever he wants. He does not want the best for the students, trust me I know”

8. Do you agree, or disagree, that public officials are more attentive when people organize to address their concerns?

answered question 49
skipped question
65.3% 32
34.7% 17
Why or why not? 16

“I feel “public officials” can receive a clearer view of folk’s needs, praise, and concerns when organized in a thoughtful manner. This also allows one voice to convey a message limiting confusion. It’s like a conduit for information to flow.”

“I have been to numerous meetings they do not listen”

“Because of accountability and transparency.”

“For one thing the public officials will know what their citizens want.’

“Its clear that there is strength in numbers. When people in higher places see that they are not just going to come in and do as they please because so many are questioning them they will at least pretend to listen to the masses.’

“The public officials like the school board really seem like they are only in it for their own benefit and not in it for the school.’

“Regardless of the format, the school officials are too preoccupied with their own goals (I.e. opening and building a new school) to really listen or care to what concerned citizens have to say.”

“The parents public etc. also need to contact our state legislature, congressmen and senators, as well as the commissioner of education. Not just school board and other faculty directly involved.”

“It doesn’t matter what we say, they are still going to do whatever the heck they want.”

“Because no matter if we speak our mind exactly mr Malone will always come up with excuses and lie through his teeth”

“I have spoken at the board meeting before and I felt ignored. One of the board members, was on his phone texting while I was reading my speech and one board member was late and didnt even get to hear it. They need to man up, stand up for what they believe in and realize that Larry Malone is not in charge.”

“The board doesn’t listen to the people and just do what they want.’

“As we have organized as a concerned parent group in the rsu, and attended board meetings, voiced our opinions, we have begun to get more attention from the board. However, this is just the beginning. They have not listened to the extent of making changes, they are just beginning to “tolerate” our presence!”

“I don’t agree or disagree. I dont even know my thoughts about this.”

“Perhaps this Board will ignore a group like this, but make no mistake. It will be more difficult for them.”

“They still will not listen until it is time for the end of the school year budget approval meeting…even though they say they will.”

9. Would you like to begin or join a new RSU 50 PTA (or PTSO)?

answered question 45
skipped question
53.3% 24
46.7% 21
Thoughts? 10

“I would participate as my schedule allows.”

“An RSU PTA or PTSO could be a very useful tool. I do not have the time to join at this time.”

“I would certainly consider joining a PTA if one is formed.”

“I didn’t want to join one in the first place!!”


“I don’t feel as if my thoughts will be seen as relevant because the board is closed minded.”

“I’m not a parent but I want to help in any way possible for Katahdin to be MSAD25 again”

“No have been going.”

“A PTSO would be my choice. We need a “formal” organized group of parents, students, and teachers to work together on these issues and for the betterment of our schools.”

“No. I want to become MSAD #25 again.”

10. Here’s the best part! As the Board will soon begin to form a strategic plan; a vision for the education of our young people. Won’t you please share your own? ….your thoughts; your favorite things about RSU 50 schools you want preserved…. …what you might want to change. Thank you

answered question 22
“””” “”
skipped question                                                                                                                                                                                              0

“My son is in the high school and this year attending the CTE in Houlton. I am thankful for the program yet saddened he needs to travel two hours on a bus when we have the space in our own facility. I think the CTE program is a nice bridge between “book work” and the work world or post secondary education. On the days my son is at Katahdin he has a full schedule BUT I question what if he had not taken the CTE program??? We have soooo few offerings. Truly sad. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the attitude of staff toward students really needs to be one of respect and support. It is the schools purpose to develop and support not tear down and judge”

“I as a student of the school system have not been happy with this decision of putting together the Rsu. Example, as breaking all laptops so we are punished at Katahdin and unable to take them home.”

“refer to #6.”

“In my opinion we have some tough issues that we must face. The first being our declining enrollment and the second being our isolated location. It seems to me that more could be done to provide courses using the internet.”

“I would just like to see our kids get a good education so they can go on to college or trade school to learn the skills they need to support themselves . I think our schools need to do a better job in preparing them for the world. Of course parents need to do their job as well.”

“I think we are paying out administration way to much and we have to many people in the administration. We don’t need all these guidance counselors and accountants. We the best quality of teachers because they are the ones who are educating our young people!!!”

‘Keep Katahdin open, bring back Mr. Evan Clark, Mr. Matt Lindsay, and Ms. Winnie Allen as teachers. Make gym class an optional course, not a required credit.”

“In the case of a special needs child, parents should have some impute on who works with their child.”

“I can’t see a thing that should be preserved. Get out and start over, back to the way we were.”

“Keep the students where they are, use the money to entice teachers with more education to the area. Just moving teachers around and hiring new all of the time gives the student no stability or bond with teachers. Look into the reasons we are one of the worse school in the country, and teachers are paid the worse in the nation. We have two kinds of educators, the ones that have been teaching 30 years, who have the seniority to stay, even if burned out. Or the 22 year olds that just received their degree and have no place to go until they have experience to move on!!!”


“The school board has no idea what there doing. My kids will not be grauating in purple. I wish they didnt go to either school.’

“When the entire RSU plan was put into place, as a student I was fine with sharing the superintendent between Southern Aroostook and Katahdin. As far as the physical consolidation goes, it just will not work, both school have to much pride in themselves as their own school.”

“What I would defiantly change is the position of the super intendant. We don’t need mr Malone at all, all he has done is spend more money that needs to be spent and he has ruined my school, and my learning. The board needs to understand that THEY are in charge of mr Malone NOT the other way around. I don’t know what I can do to further get my point across because mr Malone doesn’t listen anyways. He just lies about every thing. I would also not consolidate, people say that consolidation “gives you more options” when we can all agree that it defiantly doesn’t. Just think of the sports if we are all consolidated into southern aroostook there would defiantly not be any playing time for the kids at Katahdin, it would just be a team of southern aroostook. Last but not least I would get out of the RSU, it has been one of the crappiest things our school has gone through. We need to be back in the MSAD 25.”

“There is absolutely nothing good about the RSU 50 system. I would personally love for you to get rid of Larry Malone, who is a terrible superintendent, does not even care about the kids, and has an agenda that will only give him what he wants. Get rid of Mrs. Debra marquis, who does nothing at the school but not get things done on time, cause problems at the school and stresses kids out about their schedule, college and other things. Get rid of Mrs. Erin Schmidt, who cares for the kids, yes, but is too involved in the technology of things at school and is to deeply involved in the school agenda. Get rid of Phil Knowles, who is Larry malones “best friend”, is completely down right offensive when you don’t agree with him, and is not a good member of the board. Get rid of mrs. Elizabeth Byers-small, who is another one of Larry malones best friend, a terrible teacher, does not know how to teach a high school classroom, focuses on things that are not even close to educational, and who can not go more then two classes without leaving in tears because she is “stressed”. Maybe if you consider some of these changes, we could slowly make our way to a better school.”

“I want our kids to have it the way it used to be. Our kids are not learning anything. We need to get rid of certain board members and teachers.”

“We need to preserve quality teachers and relationships for our kids. Why did administration cut band and phys ed positions last spring, and at the same time, spend plus or minus $75,000 on new ipads/technology!!?? Is this quality education for our kids? This is just one example of what has been happening in our rsu!”

“Everything. I honestly feel that Katahdin is falling apart. Kids are not learning anything, they are just losing. They seem like they’re getting no education at all. Don’t you think that it’s pretty sad when people say, “Well sorry i spelled that wrong, or did the math wrong, i went to katahdin.”

“I feel that we should concentrate on our children’s education. We should spend less time worrying about where they will be taught and more about what they will be taught. I would like to see all of our kids have more educational options. We need to spend less time pointing fingers and more time listening to supporting each other. We all want the same thing……..THE BEST FOR OUR KIDS!!”

“I can’t think of anything positive about the consolidation. We have less high school class choices. Too much emphasis on technology and not enough concern for students and their academic progress. Our math program is lacking therefore some of the high school students are doubling up on their math.”

“Focus on needs of student, less administrative expense”

“From a student point of view, make the schedule so it works better for everyone. Don’t just tell students they have to take this and that and have no choice. That isn’t fair to those of us who are forced to take classes against our own will to meet our “6 full blocks” also more career and college introduction and more college class opportunities would be nice. Student meetings with the board to address student issues during the school year would be nice too.’


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