RSU 13 board has lost its way
I am generally not prone to writing editorials, but based on what I’ve seen on TV, heard from others and finally what I read in the recent newspapers has moved and appalled me!
This is not a SAD5/SAD50 issue period! That bus left when the RSU was formed. However, if someone wanted to tear down the RSU 13, you could not be doing a better job of it. Many of us, including some of you current board members, worked very hard and put in hundreds if not thousands of hours to get the RSU13 formed along with a prepared five-year plan. Not everything went our way, but we kept moving forward. Do as the rest of us must; work with what you have, not what you wish. This board seems to be constantly looking back in the rearview mirror contemplating what could have, should have, or what you wanted different. To the point you are self-absorbed looking at yourself and each behaviors and not concentrating on what really matters. You should be promoting the district and working toward its mission.
Michal Jackson implies in his song “Man in the Mirror," I wonder if anyone on this board looked in the mirror and said “what have I done to promote the district and work toward its mission." From where I sit there has been little of that and much less introspection. Also, from where I sit, in the public, the school board is dysfunctional, argumentative, anything but collaborative, disrespectful, and voting without truly considering the ramifications of their actions. If you don’t think so, watch your own video tapes. You have spent countless hours discussing nothing, hoping to make it into something. Effectively, you have neutered and spayed the board and much of the administration. Resulting in what may be very costly interim superintendent, business manager, lawyers, and administrators.
You have run this ship aground! You broke it. You should fix it and not leave it to others to clean up!
By the way, I understand there are petitions going around to break up the RSU. How can any board member sign a petition bent on destroying the RSU without first asking "why am I on the board." When you took the board office and oath it was not to tear down, but to build up the RSU13. You need to get back on track, get real or get out. In fact in my opinion those of you that signed, or intend to sign, any petition to dissolve/withdraw from the RSU should step down from the board immediately. It’s not a constitutional free speech issue. As a sworn RSU board member you have made a serious error in judgment and, if not, then put yourself in a conflict of interest with yourself and the community. I would not be surprised if your constituents didn’t start petitions for your removal.
You have lost your way. Get out of the trees, so to speak, and start looking at the issues as you have not been there for a very long time. Maybe this will help.
You have a well thought out, approved five-year plan in your hands that can take the RSU to the next level of a high functioning school district. It’s a clear road map, compass if you will, of the issues facing you. It’s not the be all and end all but a real working document that needs your attention. But to do so, you would have to stop bickering, meddling, posturing, looking back, and micromanaging. Every time you open your mouth you should be thinking, “how does what I say help achieve our mission and exemplify our core beliefs?" Think, act, and be a role model for this district.
The RSU 13 mission is to engage all students in the acquisition of the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful and contributing citizens in the 21st century.
How we should act toward each other: Does any of this look familiar?
Each town and you, the board, signed on to these our “Core Beliefs” which are partially listed below and highly abbreviated:
— Communicating effectively, demonstrating clear, open, honest communication skills.
— Sharing and collaborating, demonstrating respectful demeanor, working well in teams and exchanging ideas.
— Serving the community, celebrating diversity and supporting a community of learners.
— Setting a course for the future, identifying priorities in challenging times…
Can any of you sitting on this board today say you are doing any of these things, let alone well? If not, then it’s time you leave so that we can find someone who can. This, by the way, is not going to be easy given the poisoned environment you have created. Furthermore, as a board it’s beyond the time that you assign new leadership! Get new leadership now and begin anew!
These are the goals in the strategic plan… Again highly abbreviated and intended to give the flavor.
Ask yourself; “In the last two years what have I done to help accomplish, any or all, of the following goals?”
Category I – Teaching and Learning – Develop and maintain a positive, student-centered school culture that reflects rigorous academics, strong habits of work, a common pursuit of excellence and an environment of respect, admiration, ethics, and success throughout the district. Ensure the highest quality curriculum and level of instruction that engages students at all levels in successful learning, preparing them for rewarding and productive lifelong experiences.
Category II – Recruitment, Professional Development, Evaluation, and Retention of Staff - Explore evidence-based measures of effective teaching and leadership, including connecting multiple measures of effective teaching and leadership to compensation and retention.
Category III – Financial Planning and Oversight - Setting Financial Priorities: Develop a comprehensive process and accompanying practices of financial planning and analysis that align with the RSU 13 Strategic Plan.
Category IV: Facilities: Comprehensive Planning and Management - Planning Forward: Maintain a Five-Year Facilities Plan Aligned with the Strategic Plan. There are a few more, through Category VI, but you get the idea.
If the answer is I’ve done nothing then shame on you! This is your job, this is everyone’s job!
Everything else you have done has brought this onto yourself — so fix it.
Upon my leaving the RSU13 Board I noted you had millions in the bank (starting from a true zero dollars balance). You had already saved the district well over $9 million dollars, and still compounding, as a result of the formation of the RSU. You had a five-year plan that you approved so you would not lose your way. You were poised to fly like an eagle.
So ask yourself what has gone wrong? None of you are bad people, but you are behaving badly and not demonstrating good judgment. As a result of these behaviors I fear you have dropped like a turkey. However, it’s not too late to begin the mending. Difficult yes, but if you focus on what’s right (see above — no, believe above) it will make a difference! I’m not Dr. Phil, but from what I see need to get some professional intervention.
Remember you are diverse strong individuals, as you should be, but in the end you must always act as one voice.
Greg Hamlin of Thomaston is former RSU 13 board chairman.