Sebago Elementary School Advisory Committee
Minutes from Meeting of September 28, 2011
Meeting opened at 7:05 pm at the Sebago Town Offices.
In attendance were Advisory Committee members Jim Smith, Dana Batchelder, Sherry Miller, Jean Clancy, and Claudia Lowe. Absent were committee members Paul White, Moria Casey, Wendy Newcomb, and Richard Merritt. Guests present were Ann Farley and Allen Crabtree. Frank O’Hara and Neil Allen were there representing Planning Decisions.
Frank discussed his memo dated September 27, 2011 entitled “Challenges facing the desire to keep Sebago School open.” He went through each of the sections of the memo, including student testing, cost savings if the school were closed, additional costs for bus runs, the PDT Architects earlier engineering study, and predicted SES enrollment.
A lively discussion ensued. Sherry commented that student performance is poor overall in SAD61 and Stevens Brook is on academic probation. Claudia referred to the success in Finland with student achievement and referenced an NEA paper on it.
Jim wanted know what the energy cost per square foot at SES is.
Dana commented that if students are transferred out of SES then there will be a need for additional classrooms at the other elementary schools to house them.
Allen wanted to have Frank include in the report they are writing the legal basis for closing schools and returning buildings to the originating towns. A comment was made that the report should also outline steps to either secede or to have a separate school administration.
Claudia wanted to know what happens if the voters don’t approve the additional money to keep SES open and what are the alternative uses for the building if it is closed.
Neal said that much of this is premature, that no decision to close SES has been made. He also suggested that a well spoken group of citizens from Sebago could set the tone with the School Board about closures.
Sherry commented that it costs $2,000 more per student at SES than at the other elementary schools. She recommends that the focus be on improving efficiency at SES to save money – this would set a good example for the entire SAD61 budget.
Frank said that Planning Decisions would pursue models for autonomy that have worked with other schools and districts. He will also check with Casco to see how they have handled the turnover there with the Casco elementary schools building to the town. He will do a memo on the legal issues involved and will have a report in about three weeks time.
Next meeting of the advisory committee is Wednesday, October 26 at 7:00 pm at the town offices.
Meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.