ROCKLAND — The Rockland area school district is considering solar projects and electric buses.

Regional School Unit 13 Business Manager Peter Orne discussed the matter during the Board’s Thursday evening Nov. 4 meeting.

“This is pretty positive, it’s exciting,” Orne said.

Two solar projects are being considered, he said. One is for the roof of the Cushing Community School and the other at the Ash Point Community School in Owls Head. The Cushing School needs a new roof, Orne said, and its south-facing alignment would make it a natural place for solar panels.

The business manager said the district is also looking into obtaining an electric bus. The cost of a fully-equipped bus is $380,000 while a traditional bus is $85,000 to $90,000. The electric bus requires far less maintenance, he said.

An electric bus can travel up to 155 miles before it needs to be recharged, which Orne said would be more than adequate for the Rockland bus routes. Board member David Martz of Rockland said during the winter when heaters are in use, the mileage would drop as much as 30 percent before a recharge is needed.

Orne said the district is looking to the Maine Department of Education for help in financing such a purchase.

In other news at the Nov. 4 meeting, Board Chair Loren Andrews of Cushing announced Owls Head representative Susan Allen Thomas was leaving the board and this would be her last meeting. Thomas plans to travel with her husband.

Her term runs through the annual town meeting in 2023. She was first elected in 2017 and re-elected in 2020.

“We are going to miss you. We will miss your positivity, your dedication. You have been an inspiration to me,” Andrews said.

Thomas said she is leaving a wonderful board.

“I have great faith in your doing what is best for the children,” she said.

The Board also elected Brad Choyt of South Thomaston as its vice chair, replacing Tom Peaco of Rockland who did not seek re-election. Choyt was appointed to the position by the South Thomaston Selectboard after Lane Sturtevant resigned.

Choyt has an extensive background in education. He was head of the Blue School in New York City from 2009 through 2011, head administrator at North Yarmouth Academy in Maine from 2011 through 2014 and head of school at Crossroads Academy in Lyme, N.H., from 2015 through 2021.

The Board also welcomed new member Kelli McCannell of Rockland who was elected on Tuesday, Nov. 2. She is the fourth new member to join the Board this year. The Owls Head Selectboard will appoint Thomas’ replacement, and that person will be the fifth new member this year on the 10-person board.

The Rockland City Council will also appoint a new member since there was only one candidate who ran for two three-year seats on the Nov. 2 ballot. Mayor Ed Glaser said Thursday night that no one has come forward. That person would be the sixth new person on the board this year.

Owls Head RSU 13 Board member Susan Allen Thomas served her final meeting on Thursday night, Nov. 4. Photo by Stephen Betts