Meeting dates set

Public to sound off on middle school merger

Superintendent search committee organized
By Kim Lincoln | Mar 10, 2014
Photo by: Kim Lincoln Steve Roberts, right, takes the helm as the new RSU 13 board chairman March 6. At left is Michael Wilhelm, the interim superintendent.

Rockland — "What do you think of the proposed Regional School Unit 13 middle school merger?" That is the question that will go before parents and taxpayers in a series of public meetings as a result of the March 6 school board vote.

The school board also voted to postpone any action on consolidating Rockland District Middle School and Thomaston Grammar School until April.

In addition, Interim Superintendent Michael Wilhelm suggested placing a survey on the district's website, rsu13.org, as another way to gather citizen input.

The forums will be held Thursday, March 13 at Rockland District Middle School, Tuesday, March 18 at Cushing Community School and Tuesday, March 25 at Thomaston Grammar School. The meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m.

The district has been considering merging the two schools for more than a year. The board voted in spring 2013 not to combine the schools to have more time to study the issue. Then, in August 2013, the board voted to combine the two schools and send ninth-graders to Oceanside High School East in Rockland, and to have the merger in place by the 2015-2016 school year.

At that time, the new middle school was defined as sixth, seventh, and eighth grade.

Roberts said March 7 that is the plan of record, but the district is working on another proposal. Wilhelm said by email the new proposal consists of merging fifth, sixth and seventh-grade at Rockland District Middle School.

Roberts said the board would need to amend the direction of the merger if need be as the August proposal is the plan currently voted upon by the board.

Cost savings for operations and maintenance for Thomaston Grammar School is estimated at $217,219, and other savings have yet to be determined. Former Superintendent Lew Collins said the merger could save about $400,000.

Thomaston representative Darryl Sanborn said March 6 before the board decides if it is going to proceed with combining the two schools, parents, teachers and taxpayers need to have input.

Carol Bachofner, a Rockland board member, said she thinks it is the opportune time to collaborate with the public.

"It's like looking at your own belly button — you don't have a great perspective," Bachofner said of gathering input.

Marla McGeady, also of Thomaston, suggested it might be good to have a professional from outside the district to look at the best way to formalize a merger because they would have an objective view.

The Curriculum Committee and the athletic director came up with a list of pros and cons to the merger, which were presented by Wilhelm at the meeting:

Pros

The district math team recommends unification of the sixth to eighth-grade math program in 2015 regardless of consolidation and would need to expand to fifth grade.

Full-time rather than itinerant teachers in allied arts and world language, which would provide greater efficiency and utilization of resources and a possible increase in offerings. It would also provide enrichment and support opportunities.

More concentrated access to English as a Second Language and gifted and talented resources and services.

Improved coordination of proficiency-based project initiatives and of common practices for curriculum, assessment and instruction.

Greater access to after-school programming via adult education funding and support. Possible increased opportunities for current TGS students should Youthlinks continue services to RDMS students.

Expanded access to school-sponsored clubs and activities.

Consolidated athletic programming, which would create efficiencies in transportation and scheduling and save money.

Eliminates the need for practice buses to make runs to St. George Elementary School, saving time, mileage and transportation funds.

Cons

Increased travel time for some students — particularly Cushing and the potential need for a late bus to support equitable inclusion in after-school activities.

"Marginally" increased class sizes.

Limitations of instructional space for world languages, health and gifted-and-talented.

Cost of new math materials.

If allied arts are fully utilized to support additional teaming, it could limit opportunities for integration

Funding for summer prior work for coordination, faculty team building, etc.

Facility for special education's Life Skills program.

The complete list will be available on the district website, rsu13.org.

RSU 13 includes schools in Rockland, Thomaston, South Thomaston, Owls Head, St. George and Cushing.

Other business

The board also voted to set up a committee to search for a permanent superintendent. Vice-Chairman Loren Andrews praised the work of Interim Superintendent Wilhelm and said he hopes they could convince him to stay. He noted that Wilhelm has brought stability to the district.

The committee will consist of five board members for the original search. Once resumes are received community members and administration will be asked to join the committee to help select candidates to interview.

Board members Steve Roberts, Sally Carleton, George Emery, McGeady and Bachofner expressed an interest. Donald Robishaw, who was absent from the meeting, will also be asked if he is interested. Then it will be decided between him and Emery, who will be on the committee.

The board also unanimously agreed to begin having a second monthly meeting. The public would be able to participate in the workshop style meeting and an agenda would be available prior to the meeting, Roberts said. No business votes will be taken at the informal meeting.

Courier Publications Copy Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at klincoln@villagesoup.com.

Comments (6)
Posted by: Valerie Wass | Mar 11, 2014 09:12

Another case of the left hand never knows what the heck the right hand is doing.  Ever since this consolidation, which many tax payers did not want, it has been nothing but chaos for the students, parents and teachers.  Does it matter what "citizens" want?  Heck no!  Never has mattered.  The school board will hold another vote in some auditorium were there the minority rules and it will pass, against what the "citizens" want. So, please, save money and do not put a stupid survey on the RSU 13 website.  Why can't you all just leave well enough alone.  I would imagine by now that you all on the school board and involved with screwing up SAD 5 in the first place, know that the consolidation is costing us so much more than if you had left well enough alone.  You are "winging" it year to year and in doing so, causing contention amongst teachers, students, and you.  My wish, Rockland go back to SAD 5!!!!!!!!!!

 



Posted by: robert garcia | Mar 10, 2014 21:01

As a Cushing resident with two children attending the grammar school, I cannot imagine letting my children attend that (proposed) school. I will move first and I will hope that Cushing withdraws before that could happen. I know many Cushing parents who dread sending their children to this new invention.



Posted by: Maine DOC | Mar 09, 2014 10:08

Would St. George leaving affect this in any way? I agree with the statement that if it isn't broken why try and fix it? This entire consolidation was supposed to save tax payers money and has done nothing but increase our taxes since it was imposed? Let's go back to the way it was before! Bigger is not always better! I bought my house because of the small town appeal and I am slowly losing the ability to say that! Leave things alone!



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Mar 08, 2014 17:44

One would think  Wilhelm would at least smile for his $500.00 plus per day. They know just enough to be dangerous.



Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Mar 07, 2014 17:16

If it is going to cost higher real estate taxes for the homeowners FORGET IT.  You should be concentrating on cutting costs by whatever means you have to so that our real estate taxes DO NOT INCREASE!!!!!!  You can't seem to get it through your thick skulls that the homeowners have had enough of RSU-13 and the jerks who run RSU-13.



Posted by: Judy A Tibbetts | Mar 07, 2014 15:38

Lets be real ! Why can't you just leave things alone ? It's not broken . You people have caused enough damage so back off. Give the kids some time to adjust to what has happened to their schools so far.

submitted by Wayne Tibbetts



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