Members of the Regional School Unit 3 board approved a year-long extension to an agreement with the Transportation Association, and began discussing ways to address future fiscal challenges in the district.

Superintendent Heather Perry said the Transportation Association approached the school board in recent months in regards to a contract that would expire at the end of this year. Due to recent changes in how the district handles transportation needs in switching to a single bus run, as well as consideration of contracting out transportation services, the group wanted at least a one-year extension on the collective bargaining agreement, Perry said.

The Memorandum of Agreement states the collective bargaining agreement extension will be renewed beginning Sept. 1, 2014 and expire on Aug. 31, 2015.

In addition to a one-year extension, the Memorandum of Agreement also establishes a nonbinding study group that will address health benefits for drivers. Currently, Perry said most of the drivers in the district work less than 30 hours per week and school officials realize the benefits drivers receive need to be addressed.

The study group will be comprised of three members from of the Transportation Association and three members of the school board.

Once the nonbinding group is formed and meets, which will most likely begin sometime in the early summer once the district has worked through its budget discussion, they will brainstorm options for addressing healthcare options, as well as the implications of those options to the district and the Transportation Association.

The group will then report their findings to the school board and the Transportation Association.

Long term fiscal challenges

Citing the fact the district is in a “negative cycle of cutting and cutting,” Perry proposed drafting a long term plan that would help the district identify and address the financial challenges in the future over a three to 10-year period.

“We can't cut our way to a successful school system,” Perry said.

As part of the plan, the district's various committees, such as building, finance and other groups, would be tasked with drafting ideas for how RSU 3 can meet those challenges while staying true to the district's mission of ensuring “personal success through personalized learning.”

Perry said the next step in the process is for her and Chairman Ryan Harden to sit down begin outlining a plan that will then be presented at the next board meeting in April.

In other business:

Board members elected Myrick Cross of Freedom to vice chair for the remainder of the 2013-2014 term. Ryan Harnden of Waldo was previously elected to be chairman after Phil Shibles of Knox resigned the seat. Since then, Knox has appointed Garret Hubbard to serve as the town's representative on the board.