RSU 40 to accept St. George studentsChairman, vice chairman elected
Union — The Regional School Unit 40 board held a district meeting July 17 seeking authorization from voters to accept secondary students from St. George.
More than 20 people were in attendance to vote on the issue, which passed. The approval allows the district to enter a contract with St. George for a term of not more than 10 years to be the School of Record.
St. George is in the process of withdrawing from RSU 13.
Gail Hawes of Union told the audience prior to the vote that she will be voting against the motion.
"It's only that we have worked very hard to unify the district," said Hawes, a former school board member. She expressed concern that the students would not be coming to the district until high school age, which means they would not have had the educational experiences the district strives to promote.
Board member Lynda Letteney explained it is not unlike a student relocating from out of state. "Kids have to integrate," she added. "I think it is a win-win contract."
Jeff Evangelos of Friendship touched on the idea that the experience at Oceanside was not favorable and there may have been favoritism shown in athletics.
"We will roll the welcome mat out," said Evangelos.
Evangelos expressed concern about the amount of tuition St. George would pay for the students who chose to attend Medomak Valley High School.
Past Interim Superintendent Michael Cormier explained the past year's tuition rate was $8,262 — set by the Department of Education for high school students.
"Every student that may possibly come to RSU 40 from St. George will bring that amount of money," said Cormier.
He further explained the addition of students will not require hiring of more teachers, therefore "they are bringing revenue in that you can use to offset some of the expenses you already have."
"Really it is a money-maker for the school system to have these students come," said Cormier.
St. George currently has 80 high school students. Cormier said he anticipates maybe 20 coming to RSU 40 to start. He noted the agreement with St. George specifically says if there are additional costs incurred by these students coming to RSU 40, St. George will cover it.
The only other concern about the addition of students was if it would result in the athletics going up a class, which Athletic Director Matt Lash said was unlikely.
Bill Reinhardt and Terry Driscoll, members of the St. George Withdrawal Committee, were present and thanked the audience following the approval.
The RSU 13 Board and the St. George Withdrawal Committee came to an agreement June 26 concerning the town's desire to withdraw from the district and create an independent K-8 school.
The agreement needs approval from Commissioner of Education, Jim Rier, before it can be posed to voters in November. If approved, the withdrawal would be effective July 1, 2015.
The terms of agreement stipulate St. George will have the St. George School building and responsibility for the property's associated debt. The town will elect a school board to operate the K-8 school. High school students will have the choice to attend five area secondary schools — Oceanside High School, Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, Camden Hills Regional High School, Lincoln Academy in Newcastle and the private Watershed School in Camden. Tuition to all local schools will be paid for by the St. George Municipal School Unit.
Regular meeting notes
Following the district meeting, Steve Nolan conducted his first school board meeting as newly appointed superintendent of the district. The first order of business was the election of a chairman and vice-chairman of the board. Danny Jackson was re-elected chairman and Errol Silvestri was elected vice-chairman.
Nolan updated the board on the pre-kindergarten program, and asked for a change in the admission process. Initially, admission was going to be appointed by a lottery system.
"Based on feedback received from families, I am concerned that we may lose prospective students because parents are reluctant to give up daycare without knowing their child will be enrolled in our pre-K program," Nolan stated in his report to the board.
He recommended changing to a first come, first served basis and start a waiting list if necessary.
Board member Guy Bourrie voiced his dismay with switching from the lottery system. He expressed concern that there may be some towns without any students attending the pre-K program, yet being asked to pay toward the program.
There are 32 slots available at both Miller School and Warren Community School. As of July 17, 25 students are interested in the Miller School program and 22 interested in the WCS program.
Transportation is being provided to those students who are on a current bus route to Miller School and WCS. Any students not on an existing route will need to either make arrangements for transportation or be dropped off at a location on the route for service.
The board unanimously approved the change in the admission process for this year, and noted with the expected growth in the program, it would look at the process on a yearly basis.
RSU 40 serves the towns of Friendship, Union, Waldoboro, Warren and Washington.
Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.