The future of RSU 13

By Kathreen Harrison | Jan 09, 2014

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.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Jan 13, 2014 17:49

Dear Mr. Morrison thank you very much for trying to answer my question.  All I can say what is happening now is really screwed up.  Back in the day when I went to school in a very small town in southeastern Ohio.  Each school had a principal and each school was a separate unit with their own budget and they lived within their budget.  There was as superintendent of schools and a school board but the schools were still run by their principals and they made their own budgets which the superintendent approved.  This whole mess is really going to increase our real estate tax I am afraid and I can't afford to pay higher taxes.

Posted by: Aimee Liberty | Jan 13, 2014 13:57

Dear Susan,

There is a very long and drawn out answer to your question really.  The short answer is, back when Baldacci was in charge, he had this grand plan of all the school districts consolidating to save money.  He said the first ones to do it, and come up with a plan to have schools, tech schools, and everything else on one campus would win the grand prize, the state would build the new campus.  So, our school district said we would save millions if we consolidated with sad 50.  So we did, thinking we would save all this money.  Then we won the contest, and guess what, the state has no money to build what they had promised.  Instead of being smart about the process, we just jumped right in.  Then we spent TONS of money to re-name the schools, and keep some students on buses for almost 2 hours at a time.  Guess what, we have not saved any money.  The the Super at the time said got done, and got a LARGE paycheck for her troubles, sound familer?  Now we seem to be in a rut that nobody can, or wants to get us out of.  The school board doesn't seem to know what they want, and the administration is busy making money for quitting their job, but at least everybody has the kids best interest at heart.  The problem now is, they pay 2 people to do one job.  At some point there needs to be change, but I don't see it coming anytime soon.  When St. George leaves, some things may change, as the board may not be as divided, but you will still have too many people fighting for the wrong thing.  When they realize that what is best for the children is not always what is easiest for some egos, then it may change.

Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Jan 13, 2014 10:44

I moved to Rockland, ME in 2006.  I have no children in school my children are in their 40's and 50's so I really didn't pay attention to RSU-13 until every year my real estate tax increased and for what?  I have a question and this may be a stupid question but I am going to ask it anyway.  It is my understanding that RSU-13 is comprised of schools in several cities which includes Rockland, etc.  In other words the schools are under the umbrella of RSU-13.  If I understand correctly St. George is trying to leave the umbrella of RSU-13.  Now my question why can't the schools in the different cities run their own schools, make their budgets to operate only their schools, for example Rockland be responsible for only the schools in Rockland, etc?  If I understand that is what St. George is trying to do.  To me it seems stupid to have all these schools under the umbrella of RSU-13.  Can someone please explain all of this to me.

Posted by: George C. Hall & Sons, Inc | Jan 09, 2014 11:02

St. George has only been saying this for six years. Its a total disaster right now.

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