Monroe Town News
Loyal Rebekah Lodge #92 hosted First District Meeting of the Rebekah Assembly of Maine at the Odd Fellows Hall in Monroe on Saturday, March 2, with more than 50 members present. The meeting was preceded by a delicious ham dinner prepared and served by the brothers of Monroe Lodge IOOF #136. The first order of business of the meeting was the conferring of the Rebekah degree on two candidates, and new member Kate Starrett was welcomed into Loyal #92, while Jean Libby became a member of Acme #75 of Oakland. Immediately following the degree work, the meeting was turned over to Sharon LaSota, district deputy president of District #14, who welcomed 17 distinguished guests and 10 honored guests following the introductions by Muriel Elkins, district deputy marshal. Sally Nason of Loyal gave a nice response to the welcome.
A count of lodges present showed members present from lodges in Portland, Wiscassett, Tenants Harbor, Augusta, Skowhegan, Windham, Oakland, Gardiner, Auburn, Madison and Gorham, in addition to the hostess lodge of Monroe.
Thirteen past district deputy presidents of District #14 were recognized and asked to tell what year they served, and who their president was. Following the annual report of Loyal #92 by Carolyn Wingate, noble grand, Carolyn escorted Kathy Tweedie, president of the Rebekah Assembly of Maine, to a tableau representing her program for the year and presented her with a donation from Loyal #92 for the President's Project to benefit the residents of the Odd Fellows' and Rebekahs' Home of Maine in Auburn.
A demonstration on how to ballot on an application for membership was given by Joe and Judy Dutram, and the memorial service for those who have passed away during the past year was presented by Sharma Wood. Certificates of merit were presented to Constance Clements for presenting the noble grand's charge, Sally Nason for the vice grand's charge, Sharma Wood for the chaplain's charge and Charlotte White for the past noble grand's charge, all given from memory during the degree work.
Remarks were made by Jerry Farnham, grand master of the Grand Lodge IOOF of Maine; Katherine Tweedie, president, Rebekah Assembly of Maine; Allen Knights, department commander, Patriarchs Militant of Maine; Barbara Howard, president, Ladies Auxiliaries Patriarchs Militant of Maine; and Donald Dinsmore, grand high priest, Grand Encampment of Maine.
The opening and closing ceremonies were conducted in a very impressive manner by the hostess lodge.
Basket bingo time
A basket bingo fundraiser will be held on Sunday, April 7, at the Monroe Odd Fellows Hall on Jackson Road in Monroe. The doors will open at 11 a.m., with lunch available. Raffle tickets on a quilt made by the Rebekahs will be available. Games will start at 1 p.m., with the proceeds being used to send youth to Camp NEOFA in Montville.
School Board meeting
For all the talk of how our schools want the input of parents and taxpayers and, for that matter, the children whose education is at stake, my first experience at an RSU 3 School Board meeting was, to say the least, an eye-opener. In my life I have attended many, as I would put it, "meetings" that were conducted in a professional manner, i.e., using Roberts' Rules of Order. I made the assumption that the School Board meeting would be conducted in the same manner. I will make an effort to clarify what I mean without throwing stones or pointing fingers, because I truly feel that our School Board is charged with a daunting task.
In my experience, meetings are called to order, minutes of the last meeting are approved by vote and then you address changes to the night's written agenda, such as the order in which they might occur, then you cover old business, and then proceed to the night's agenda, or as I would refer to it, new business. Also, at this time when moving for new business, if there is someone in the audience who wishes to speak to something that is not on the written agenda, they would raise their hand and the chair, or in some cases a moderator, would recognize them and allow them to address the body for a reasonable period of time, generally five minutes. Then the body would continue with the night's agenda, after which you might ask, if appropriate, if there are any non-board members or citizens or district residents who wish to speak briefly to any agenda items that were covered that evening. Then, if there happened to be any items that should be dealt with in closed session or executive session, the Board would then close the meeting to the public and conclude their night's business.
However, this is not the manner in which our School Board meetings are run; it was, in my opinion, slightly disorganized. Now, this could possibly be due to it being a rescheduled meeting or it simply could be that they do not technically use Robert's Rules, I am not sure. They stopped and started the meeting several times to go into executive session instead of doing it all at once at the end. And the opportunity for public comment was at the very beginning of the night, before the agenda items were even discussed. Therefore, if a member of the public had a concern or comment related to the things that occurred that evening, then you would have to contact the superintendent or School Board chairperson in writing and get invited back to speak at a future meeting. And even when they did have the public comment section of the meeting, there is a policy that it be limited to 10 minutes total. This means if, let us say, for example, four people show up and wish to make a public comment they would get two and a half minutes each to speak, or if there were 10 people who showed up, they would get one minute each to speak. As unreasonable as this may sound, it has been out of the fact that in the past meetings have gone on until all hours and this evidently became a problem.
I have also now learned that even though the meeting is open to the public, it is only this year that they have added an actual public comment portion to the meeting. I was told that in the past it was not allowed at all. Apparently, it is set down by state statute that they do not have to allow public comment. The only way in the past that we as ordinary citizens were allowed to address the board would be, as I alluded to before, by invitation or permission, and then it would have to be in written form and would only be allowed at the discretion of the chairman or superintendent.
I guess that where I am going with all this is, my daughter, Sylvia, and I attended the March 4 Board meeting and arrived there with the impression and understanding that there was a time in the course of the night when we would have the opportunity to speak to our feelings and experiences with the new proficiency-based teaching and grading system that our district is now using. Even though it is in its infancy, the system has some obvious flaws, in my opinion, as well as my daughter's, and since it is her education that is at stake, I thought that it would be important for the School Board to hear this before this system was so far into being used that there would be no turning back.
Well, what I found was that even though our children are attempting to be taught using this system, not all teachers are actually sticking to the model or that to some degree are finding it difficult to transition into. I also learned that there is a committee, called the RSU 3 Strategic Design Team, that is still developing this system and that according to Superintendent Heather Perry the Strategic Design Team has just begun meeting and has "extensive plans to engage the community in open forums, surveys, parent nights and all kinds of other ideas. Their major focus is on creating the plan, but the secondary focus is making sure to involve the community in the process."
It is my intention and hope as a parent and Monroe resident that anyone wanting more information on this should go to www.msad3.org and select the Administration tab and go to School Board and then to the bottom of the page under Documents of Interest and read about everything that is in front of our School Board. If you do this, I am sure that most if not all will go away with a greater appreciation of what is at stake, as well as how difficult and confusing the whole process is. I know I have. And instead of this deterring me from wanting to be involved in the process, it just inspired me to want to know more and possibly be able to help in its creation and subsequent tweaking and implementation. For, as a parent as well as a resident of the town and hence the district, I learned one very important thing from the meeting. There are pro's to this proficiency-based learning, but there are just as many con's, and that was something I felt before I went to the meeting and something I feel even stronger after.
On a personal note
It seems hard to believe, considering the weather of the past two-plus weeks, that spring is right around the corner. This having been said, means we will soon, if not already, be dealing with Maine's fifth season, affectionately known as mud season. I say this with a hint of sarcasm, of course. Having said that, in all seriousness, we know this will be a problem here in town, given the fact that we have more than our share of dirt roads. So please, again, I ask all drivers of heavy vehicles to respect the posted signs here in town so as to preserve what roads we have. We know that the town tries its best every year to maintain our infrastructure, but with budget cuts affecting every aspect of our lives, there is of course much less in the way of funds for this task, like any other.