Media Archive

Local school officials look to state for guidance

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 37, September 10, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

Regional school discussion continues among SADs 41, 46, 68, 4

Where do we go from here?

That is the question that school officials from SAD 41, 46, 68 and 4 sought to answer Tuesday in a meeting with state Commissioner of Education Susan Gendron regarding ongoing talks about a regional school in Piscataquis County.

SAD 41 Superintendent David Walker, SAD 46 Superintendent Les Butler, SAD 68 Superintendent John Dimbauer, and SAD 4 Superintendent Paul Steams were expected to attend the meeting, along with board chairs representing each district.

The meeting, Walker said, was set up to determine where to go next with the discussion of a regional school option. He said there has been little direction from the state over the past year, since the state Board of Education adopted a resolution Aug. 21, 2002, not to fund any capital improvements in schools until districts evaluate all regional options.

Piscataquis County's school districts are concerned that their facilities are aging and potentially facing significant renovations or replacement in the next few years. SAD 41's Walker has stated previously that it is better for the school districts to be open to this discussion now and retain some local control in the long run.

The discussions have been had, he said, and now is the time for some help from the state.

Walker said he would like to see someone from the state Department of Education appointed to help mediate the discussion.

"We've taken this as far as we can," he said.

Meanwhile, SAD 46 in Dexter continues to operate the aging Dexter Middle School, although the state Board of Education placed the project on the special priority list for concept funding in August 2000. According to SAD 46 Superintendent Butler, the district has no alternative but to continue to operate six classes out of three portable units in the middle school, and the library out of a separate portable. The building does not meet current electric codes. Butler said, and heat will leak out the windows, come cold weather.

Commissioner Gendron acknowledged last week that she would be meeting with Piscataquis County school officials on Sept. 10, but that the agenda for the meeting was not set.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.