Minutes of Committee Meeting, Wednesday, July 25, 2007.
Meeting called to order at 5:00 p.m.
Members present: Robert Nicholson, Richard Merritt, Abe Parker, Greg Smith, Allen Crabtree
Robert distributed copies of the SAD61 power point presentation, minutes from the regional meeting, the state timeline. He also will make copies of the state legislation for next time for members.
Allen Crabtree was voted chair of the committee by the members.
The committee membership will be presented to the BOS at their next meeting for review and appointment.
Greg Smith and Robert attended a recent meeting at SAD61 to discuss regionalization. Greg described the meeting – there are 10 members from 4 towns represented in addition to members of the SAD61 school board. The legislation sets the minimum size for school districts in Maine at 2,500 students and a goal of 80 Regional School Districts. The goal is to reduce administrative costs in school districts by 50%, a decrease in transportation costs by 5% and special education budgets by 5%. The SAD61 school board and the Superintendent feel that SAD61 has already made what cost efficiencies that it can and that there would be no advantage to joining with other school districts
Richard commented that when Sebago joined SAD61 in 1968 there was a great deal of pressure from the state to do so. He feels that a great deal of local control has been lost with Sebago as part of SAD61, particularly when compared to when Sebago ran its own school system including Potter Academy. He would hope that any new arrangement would have an element of local control for Sebago.
Robert feels that Sebago should strive to do what is best for the education of our children and also best for Sebago taxpayers.
The committee felt that there are at least three options open to Sebago at this time:
1. Stay with SAD61 and be a force for additional budget efficiencies and savings.
2. Sebago run their own independent school system, running its own K-8 and vouchering high school students to other schools.
There was discussion of Sebago independently running its own K-8 system and voucher out high school students to high schools of their choice. Raymond now has a system very much like this. Greg commented that his interpretation of the new state law is that the Raymond model would not be possible if the school system had less than 2,500 students.
The average cost per high school student is $7,200.
3. Sebago could join another SAD. SAD 6 was mentioned as one likely option, with higher academic test results and existing efficiencies. SAD6 is next door, busing would be no further to Bonny Eagle than to Lakes Region HS, and there would be advantages to both SAD6 and Sebago.
There was discussion about Sebago joining another school district. Robert and Greg both commented that state law doesn’t specifically allow nor prohibit this course of action. The Board of Selectmen at their last meeting authorized Robert to approach SAD6 (Bonny Eagle – Standish) about discussions on possibly joining SAD6.
There was discussion on the cost to Sebago to leave SAD61. We would have to meet our debt service obligation to SAD61 of about $792,000, plus our share of lease costs for portables and modular classrooms. The latter would be 14.97% of about $225,000, or $40,000 for Sebago. If we were to leave SAD61 we would then be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the Sebago Elementary School. Future costs could include whatever maintenance and remodeling to bring SES up to standards (kitchen, stage, gymnasium, etc), legal costs (perhaps $100,000), transportation costs, and administrative costs. Robert estimates that the entire package of seceding could be as much as $2,000,000.
Assignments for next meeting:
1. Read the state law on school district consolidation – all
2. Look at test scores for SAD61 and neighboring districts – all
3. Draft letter to SAD6 to open a dialogue – Robert
4. Attend the meeting on Monday in Fryeburg with SAD55 (Sacopee), SAD72 (Fryeburg) and SAD61 (Lakes Region) - Greg
5. Investigate the local control option – Richard
6. Think on a mission statement for this committee and Sebago – all
The next meeting will be held on Thursday, August 2, starting at 5:30pm at the town offices.
Meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.