Petition asks state to disband school board
South Thomaston — A fourth petition is being circulated in Regional School Unit 13 — this time in South Thomaston — and it asks for the Maine Department of Education to intervene and disband the school board.
As of Feb. 6, 40 people had signed the petition, which was dropped off at the 'Keag Store Feb. 4.
"We the undersigned of this petition would like to have it known that the people of Knox County who live in RSU 13 school district have no confidence in the current administration or the school board to lead our district through its current turmoil," the petition states.
"Due to the amount of discord in the operations of the district at the board and administration level, we would respectfully request that the Secretary of Education for the state of Maine intervene on behalf of the children of RSU 13 and disband the current board and reorganize the district in a manner that serves to best educate the children of the district," it reads.
Deborah Damon of Owls Head, who signed the petition, said she thinks it's time for an entirely new board.
"I think they ought to start all new. Have a fresh approach to the whole thing," she said.
Petitions also are circulating in both Thomaston and Rockland seeking to withdraw from the district and operate independently, and there is an online petition at change.org asking the board not to rehire resigning Superintendent Lew Collins as interim superintendent.
The district has been in upheaval since October when Business Manager Scott Vaitones told the board that the superintendent had overspent the special education budget by more than $500,000. Collins has said the budget is not overspent in that area and said the problem is a deficit in the food service budget. He placed Vaitones on paid leave in November.
Collins resigned from the job Dec. 31, with his last day being Feb. 15. He cited the lack of unity on the school board as the reason for his departure. The district agreed to a nearly $100,000 settlement. The board is in the midst of a termination hearing for Vaitones that resumes Feb. 12 and 13.
The board is expected to discuss the interim superintendent job, vote for a new board chairman, discuss and possibly vote on merging Rockland District Middle School and Thomaston Grammar School, discuss withdrawing from the RSU and board behavior at its next meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 5:30 p.m. at McLain School in Rockland.
RSU 13 includes schools in the towns of Rockland, Thomaston, South Thomaston, Owls Head, Cushing and St. George.
Courier Publications Copy Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.