Superintendent reacts to rumors about MCST ban

By Dwight Collins | Mar 04, 2014

Rockport — Camden Hills Regional High School students who currently are enrolled at Mid-Coast School of Technology will be able to continue to attend the school for the foreseeable future, according to Five Town Community School District Superintendent Elaine Nutter.

“I’d like to relieve some concerns of parents and students who currently attend Mid-Coast School of Technology,” Nutter said. “There are some rumors going around that they will not be able to continue their technical course of study at MCST after this year and that is simply not true.”

She authored a letter sent out March 3 that said despite administrative concerns regarding the Five Town CSD portion of the MCST budget, students will be able to continue attending there.

The advisory committee on Career and Technical Education brought to the school board concerns about the district’s share of costs to educate students at MCST.

MCST is governed by a cooperative board, where each sending school has a representative. In 1973 a cost-sharing formula was put in place and, according to Nutter, Camden Hills Regional High School is on the hook for 36 percent of the MCST’s $3 million budget.

“We feel that we are paying a larger portion than we should be,” Nutter said. “We send nowhere near 36 percent of MCST students, which would be 178 kids, the size of our senior class. It is not fair or equitable.”

According to Nutter the number of Camden Hills’ students attending MCST is 73.

The letter explains as a member district, the CSD pays a portion of the MSCT budget, which is based upon the proportionate number of juniors and seniors in each district. The proportionate share that is defined in the Cooperative Agreement does not currently include a factor of the proportionate number of students who attend MCST.

The letter reads, “The proportion that Five Town CSD pays is far greater than the approximately 22 percent enrollment of students who attend the MCST campus. In addition, in order to change the cost sharing formula that is in the Cooperative Agreement, the MCST Board would have to approve the change, and then each sending Board needs to approve the change. Essentially, at the sending board level, an island Board has the same vote as our Board which represents five towns. We do not think this is fair taxation or representation, so we are seeking to change the Cooperative Agreement through discussion with the MCST Board and area superintendents. The Five Town CSD Board supports career and technical education.”

The letter continued, “The Board recognizes that many students are finding success at MCST. However, the Board has also expressed concern that a number of our students, who would be interested in career and technical education, are not currently being served by the current courses being offered at MCST, and the Board would like to explore other options for extending even more opportunities for our students. At the last Board meeting, the Five Town CSD voted to appoint an Advisory Committee to help it become more informed about career and technical education and to explore options to better serve our students, not only now but in the future. Meetings of the Advisory Committee will be posted and open to the public, with agendas and minutes posted on our website. In summary, the Five Town CSD supports career and technical education, supports the attendance of our students at MCST, and recognizes that MCST provides an excellent option for some of our students.”

The letter by no means is meant to be an attack on MCST and what it has to offer Camden Hills students, Nutter said, it is intended to dispel the rumors.  Nutter said she feels the work done at MCST is outstanding, but that the formula that the MCST board uses to split the coast between sending schools needs to be looked at and revised.

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Dwight Collins
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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