The future of RSU 13
The current debacle in RSU 13 provides a unique opportunity for taxpayers and employees alike to push the district to better serve its citizens. In order to seize this opportunity we must recognize from all that has happened in the past six years that inclusiveness and transparency are of primary importance in decision-making.
RSU 13 has operated according to an outmoded top-down model of decision-making for far too long. Stakeholders are left in the dark, with certain players controlling the show, while the majority — most teachers, most parents, most taxpayers, even some administrators — are relegated to standing-room only seats. This is not good for morale and it does not lead to good decision-making. Recent events have shone a spotlight on the district’s ever-increasingly autocratic and dysfunctional style of leadership.
The RSU 13 Board needs to take the time to explain to the stakeholders: why they agreed to the extraordinarily generous severance package reported by the press; where all the money we started the year with is now; how they intend to make decisions from now on; why they allowed the situation in our district to fester for so long that it is now finally eating up the money we need for school supplies, professional development, and field trips for students.
Reform in how decisions are made needs to reach beyond the board level if RSU 13 is to not only save the district financially but also improve the education afforded its students. The top-down model of running schools belongs to a former era. We need to move the district into the 21st century, where administrators and teachers work in partnership in making decisions. Calling schools “Learning Communities” does not make them so. The only way to create a truly collaborative district is to do the hard work of actually reaching out to stakeholders. The public fiasco we are all living with now should serve as a wake-up call to look deeply at how the district works. If we seize this opportunity there is no reason we cannot move our schools forward. In the same way that it takes a village to raise a child, it will now take the energy of the stakeholders to safeguard the future of RSU 13.