Lack of consensus ends talks of board goals, for nowFinance chair: Preliminary budget shows $2.3 million increase
Searsport — The Regional School Unit board of directors voted against adopting a three-page list of goals the board had discussed setting for itself since late last year after the group failed to agree on which directives to implement at the regular meeting Tuesday night, Feb. 11.
Directors voted down a motion to adopt the goals as amended after more than 30 minutes of debate at Searsport District High School. The heft of discussion among directors was in regard to the first set of goals presented in the draft list, which dealt with improving relations between the board and the public.
Directors initially discussed setting goals for the board in November, said RSU 20 Board Chairman Tony Bagley, who further stated the list the directors were considering Tuesday represented a range of ideas, but that the board had yet to formally adopt any of them.
"We can decide to adopt all of the goals we talked about, or we can pick and choose," he said.
Director Alexa Schweikert said she felt the board, in addition to school administrators and staff, should be informed about positive happenings in the district and she felt that should be specified in the listed goals. She also questioned goals suggesting the generation of a monthly article for the local media to help keep the public informed, as well as one recommending the board hold regular informational forums. Schweikert asked which directors would be responsible for executing those directives.
Director David Ferguson said he felt the board was already meeting one of those goals.
"We're holding public forums as issues come up," he said.
Director Caitlin Hills suggested directors could take turns writing the monthly piece for the media, but Director Denise Dakin said the board could make better use of the district's existing website. Dakin said the elementary schools already produce regular newsletters for families and the community, and recommended getting the middle and high schools on board with providing something similar for use on the website.
"A lot of that is being done through social media," said Bagley, who said the district news can also be posted at the Friends and Supporters of RSU 20 Facebook page.
Ferguson said adding a section to the district website dedicated to board items of interest could be a way to share everything from news articles about ongoing classroom activities to notices about upcoming meetings, so long as the board remained focused on keeping the information updated regularly.
"Maybe that should be the goal," said Bagley,
Director Stephen Hopkins said he agreed with expanding the use of the district website, but was hesitant to support the idea of one board member writing a news piece on behalf of all the directors.
"It could be their opinion," he said.
"Board members, individually, have no authority," said Director Debora Riley. "It really cannot be done individually."
After some additional discussion, Bagley prodded the group to arrive at some agreement.
"If we're not going to go anywhere, we might as well just table the whole thing," he said.
"We can beat this horse to death," he said. "This is ridiculous."
Hopkins eventually made the motion to move the question so the board could then deal with the original motion to adopt the goals as amended. The motion to cease debate passed easily, and then the board rejected the motion to adopt the slate of suggested goals (Directors Stephanie Wade, Alan Wood, Valerie Mank, Percy King and Charles Grey voted in favor of adoption).
After the vote, Bagley stated he would not bring the goals back to the board during the remainder of the time he serves as chairman.
"It's a total waste of time," he said.
In other news, RSU 20 Finance Committe Chairman Tony Swebilius delivered a cautionary message about the upcoming budget building season, telling the board a preliminary look at the 2014-15 budget showed an increase of as much as $2.3 million.
Swebilius said the committee has yet to fully review the figures, but noted the district could expect a 16-percent increase in health insurance costs for the coming year.
Swebilius said the Finance Committee will begin a more detailed review of expenses at its next meeting, set for Tuesday, Feb. 25 at the Central Office beginning at 5 p.m. The meeting will take place ahead of the regular board meeting, which is slated for 6:30 p.m. at Belfast Area High School.
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Tanya has been a general news reporter in Waldo County since 1997.
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