Media Archive

SAD 41 superintendent sees district consolidation as distant

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 11, March 13, 2002

By Sarah MacIlroy
Staff Writer

MILO Cooperation, collaboration and consolidation were all part of the discussion held at a SAD 41 school board meeting last week.
Superintendent David Walker made reference to a Feb. 13 article in The Piscataquis Observer where SAD 68 Superintendent Donald Siviski made one of the first public calls for consolidation of area school districts.

During a Feb. 6 school board meeting, Siviski said that in wake of declining enrollments, he felt Piscataquis County should be seriously considering area-wide consolidation. He said a student population whose "critical mass" is dropping too low to maintain necessary academic program with diminished state funding is also a serious threat of creating a tax burden beyond what local taxpayers can afford.

"Siviski has pretty boldly said that we need to be talking seriously about consolidation," Walker said, "and I've been approached by several people about (this)."
Walker said he wanted to counter rumors they are considering closing the high school or immediate consolidation, but that they do want to keep a good working relationship with the other school districts.

"I look at this as a continuum," he said, "with cooperation on one end of the spectrum and consolidation on the other end."

Walker said he see SAD 41 as being somewhere in the middle of that continuum.

"We're somewhere in that cooperation/collaboration phase," he said. "I think there are some areas that we certainly can collaborate in."

One way the school tries to work with the other districts is by coordinating school schedules and sending students to the Tri-County Technical Center. They also share some ATM classes so schools can provide a broader range of classes.

Area-wide consolidation is definitely something that could happen in the future. Walker said. However, he also said he did not feel it would happen during his tenure as superintendent.

"We should at least be a part of the discussion," he said. "But as far as the high school closing-that's not going to happen right off." He said that the town has seen some rocky consolidations in the past and he does not want residents to have to relive that.

"We should be keeping an ongoing discussion about what's best for our kids," he said. "That's got to be the base... Depending on what the next five to ten years bring, I'd certainly rather be proactive in how we educate our children rather than reactive."

Another topic of last week's discussion was inappropriate student conduct that seems especially prevalent in sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.

Principal John Robinson explained that school is planning an open forum with both the parents and students to discuss the problem and explore possible solutions.

One of the problems that has been brought to the attention of the some parents and staff is the amount of berating that students are doing to other students and the amount of inappropriate language that is heard coming from students, Robinson explained. He said some of the problems start at home and just carry over into the school.

"I'm wondering if we're sending the message that this is 'OK,'" asked Board Member Jeffrey Hamlin. "We need to generate the culture that says. This is not acceptable.'"

Hamlin offered the solution that staff might encourage older students to also be active in creating positive role models for younger students.

All parents and students from grades six through eight will be invited to the open forum on April 20 at 6 p.m. In other business. Walker gave an update of the work being done to remedy roof problems at Brownville Elementary School. Because of the way the entryway roof was constructed, the school has been having to deal with leaks even after repeated tries to apply ice and water shield to the roof.

"It (the entryway) seems to have been an afterthought in construction," explained Walker. "We're looking at moving that entrance so all the water doesn't drain into that spot."

The shingles on the roof of the school have been replaced twice,hopes of solving the problem, but the only solution seems to be moving the entryway.

Walker said that bad news was that the project would be bigger than they had originally expected, but that the good news was that relocation of the entryway should create a more permanent solution for what has been an ongoing problem.

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