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Initial Committee Recommendation.
July 20, 2007
To      -       MSAD #61 Board of Directors C/O Frank Gorham - Superintendent
From -  Kevin Hancock, MSAD #61 Reorganization Ad Hoc Committee Chair
Re     -        Initial Committee Recommendation.
Date    -       July 20, 2007
        The MSAD #61 Reorganization Ad Hoc Committee met on Monday July 16`h, 2007 from 8:30 AM --2:30 PM and again on Tuesday July 17`h from 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM at the school district office. Committee members Janice Barter, Robert Caron Sr., Derik Goodine, Jeff Hall, Kevin Flancock, Tara Maker, Robert Nicholson, Donna Norton, Greg Smith, Brook Sulloway and Wayne Warner were present. The meeting was facilitated and supported by Frank Gorham, school superintendent, Sherrie Weese, Finance Coordinator, and Cathy Gerrish.
        Our committee was created by the MSAD #61 Board on June 10', 2007. The charter of our committee was as follows:
GOAL:  To recommend to the MSAD #61 School Board reorganization options that meet the requirements of the Consolidation Legislation PL Chapter 24 Part XXXX,
MEMBERS WILL:  Review and become knowledgeable of the Consolidation Legislation PL Chapter 204 Part XXXX. Develop consolidation options for MSAD #61 School Board consideration and recommend consolidation partners.
TIME FRAME:  The Reorganization Ad Hoc Committee will report to the MSAD #61 School Board on or before August 6th, 2007.
        The committee spent most of the 1st day reviewing the legislation and familiarizing itself with the work of the School Board and the Superintendents office to date on the topic of compliance with the Consolidation Legislation. Frank Gorham, Sherrie Weese and Andy Madura provided the committee with useful information on the key metrics and initiatives of the district with respect to system administration cost, transportation efficiency, special education programming and facilities maintenance. The committee was impressed with the efficiencies of the district on these fronts. Frank Gorham also reviewed the discussions that have already taken place with our surrounding districts regarding consolidation and cooperation options. The committee was pleased to see that considerable conversation had already taken place with MSAD #55, MSAD #72, MSAD #17, and SAU #29.

        On the second day of our session the committee discussed possible options for compliance with the Consolidation Legislation.
        As a result, the committee has the following recommendations to the MSAD #61 School Board:
The district should explore the option of merging with MSAD #55 and MSAD #72 despite the fact that early indications suggest that both #55 and #72 have reservations about merging with #61.
The district should explore the option of developing an "alternate plan" as provided for in the Consolidation Legislation. The Consolidation Legislation provides for districts of fewer than 2,500 students where circumstances relating to Geography, Demographics, Economics, Transportation,
Population density and other unique circumstances justify an exception. The committee believes that many, if not all, of these circumstances are present in our case. Furthermore, the committee believes that it is possible that given those circumstances, no district will want to merge with MSAD #61.
The merits of both options should be compared and evaluated prior to the August 31st, 2007 notice of intent filing deadline.
        Furthermore, for implementation of the above referenced recommendations, the committee recommends the following:
A committee representative from each town be appointed to participate in the regional consolidation discussion with MSAD #55 and MSAD #72. Specifically, the committee recommends that Kevin Hancock as committee chair (Casco), Robert Caron Sr. (Naples), Brook Sulloway as School Board chair (Bridgton) and Greg Smith (Sebago) work with Frank Garham as Superintendent to represent our district in the regional discussion.
The scope of work of the MSAD #61 Reorganization AD Hoc Committee be extended beyond August 6th, 2007 to support the School Board and the Superintendent in developing and implementing our plan for compliance with the Consolidation Legislation.
The position of the Town of Raymond toward consolidation should be clarified.
        The committee believes that based upon the work that has already transpired the following options are not likely to be beneficial to compliance with the Consolidation Legislation:
Preliminary discussions have been held with MSAD # 17 and their district has indicated that they are not interested in pursuing merger discussions with our district at this time.
Preliminary discussions have been held with SAU #29 and their district has indicated that they are not interested in pursuing merger discussions with our district at this time.
Splitting off a single town from another district (for example Harrison from MSAD #17) to join our district does not, in the opinion of the committee, meet the spirit of the Consolidation Legislation. Furthermore, the town of Harrison has had preliminary discussions with our district and responded that they are not interested in joining MSAD #61.
        In summary, the committee believes that two primary options exist for best complying with the Consolidation Legislation and that both options should be pursued and modeled prior to the August 31st notice of intent filing deadline.
Option #1 - Merge with MSAD #55 and MSAD #72.
Option #2 - Prepare an "alternate plan" to remain independent as our best mechanism for maximizing administration efficiency and educational quality.
        In comparing and evaluating the two options prior to the August 31st, 2007 State imposed filing deadline the committee believes that the following concepts should serve as guides in our decision making process:
The objective of the Consolidation Legislation is to maximize administration, transportation, special education and facilities efficiency without disrupting (and ideally enhancing) educational quality.
Available district consolidation options should be pursued. However, no district should merge just for the sake of merging. We have a fiduciary responsibility to compare the benefits and disadvantages of a merger with the benefits and disadvantages of an "alternate plan".
A merger requires two or more willing partners and therefore merger opportunities are partly beyond our control.
The responsibility to develop the best plan of action was expressly delegated to each local district.
Significant efficiencies have already been achieved by the district and more efficiencies within the district are possible.
Strategic alliances are, in many cases, as capable as mergers of providing cost savings and management efficiency. Strategic alliances are already in place with other districts for purchasing, program sharing and equipment sharing.
The Consolidation Legislation mandates short time deadlines on decision making and our district must therefore move decisively with the best information available.
Most importantly, consistent with the top School Board goal of "kids first", the quality of our students' education is the #1 priority and the plan we ultimately put forth should be the one that we believe will provide the best platform for the education of the students of our district.
Thank you.
Sincerely,
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Kevin Hancock Committee Chair