RSU 13 seeks community input on middle school merger

Mar 25, 2014

Rockland — The Regional School Unit 13 School Board is in the process of considering the potential benefits and challenges of merging two of the district’s middle schools.

The contemplated merger would result in combining all grade five through seven classes that currently exist at the Thomaston Grammar School and Rockland District Middle School into the Rockland facility.

According to a news release from the district, benefits of a TGS and RDMS consolidation would include more efficient deployment of allied arts faculty; more concentrated access to gifted and talented, technology integration, and special education services; teachers teaching within their area of specialty (math, science, history, etc.); enhanced opportunities for teachers working in grade level teams; greater autonomy and flexibility in school scheduling; improved coordination of common practices for instruction, assessment and curriculum; more efficient and coordinated athletic programming; and greater access to school sponsored clubs and after school activities. In addition to these programming benefits, it is estimated that a merger would result in a conservative estimated budget savings of $217,219.

The challenges of any such merger also need to be considered. These challenges include increased travel time for some students; possible need for late day transportation so that equitable access to athletics and after school programs is maintained for all students; marginally increased class sizes averaging between 20 and 23 students per class; limited space at the current RDMS facility to accommodate special program areas and the possible need for portable classroom space; and additional funding dedicated to instructional materials and teachers working during the summer to prepare for the consolidation.

The RSU 13 School Board recognizes that this merger would be a significant change, and therefore is seeking community input and suggestions. Community forums are being held. Up and coming forums include a community meeting at Cushing Community School March 25 and April 2 at RDMS. Both meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. An initial forum was held at TGS March 18.

A survey has also been developed. The survey can be taken online by going to the RSU 13 website. Surveys will be available at any of the community forums or may be obtained by contacting the RSU 13 Central Office at 596-6620, or any of the schools. The survey is designed to solicit community input regarding this proposed grade five through seven merger, the timeline for any such merger, and other possible school configurations that might be reasonably considered.

The survey became available online as of March 19, and so far participation has been robust. The RSU 13 School Board thanks those who have already responded, and sincerely hopes that as many citizens as possible will participate in the remaining community meetings and the survey. Survey results will be published on the RSU 13 website during the first week of April.

RSU 13 officials thank you for your consideration of this important issue. Please know that your input is welcomed, appreciated, and will inform our decision, a news release states.

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