Brunswick schools eye collaboration with 10 districts

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BRUNSWICK — The School Department is continuing the application process to form a regional education service center with 10 other school districts.

Brunswick first expressed interest in forming a regional service center last November, after the state offered financial incentives to districts willing to collaborate on some services.

The Department of Education’s goal is to ultimately form between nine and 12 regional service centers throughout the state.

Among the other districts Brunswick is interested in collaborating with, according to Assistant Superintendent of Schools Pender Makin, are Portland, South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, Gorham, Regional School Unit 5 (Freeport, Durham, Pownal), School Administrative District 15 (Gray, New Gloucester), SAD 6 (Buxton, Hollis, Standish, Limington, Frye Island), and RSU 14 (Windham, Raymond). She declined to identify the 10th district.

Superintendent Paul Perzanoski said in February that SAD 75 and Regional School Unit 5 were interested in continuing discussions about moving on to the second step in the application process to form a regional service center with Brunswick.

At the April 11 meeting of the School Board, however, Makin said SAD 75 and RSU 5 are no longer involved.

Now, Makin said Brunswick has gone on to the next step of the application process, to join a regional service center with 10 other districts, most of which Makin said are located around Cumberland County. It is called the “Greater Sebago Alliance,” she said, and RSU 5 is also interested in joining the group.

As part of a separate effort, Brunswick school officials are also continuing voluntary discussions with West Bath, Lisbon, SAD 75 (Harpswell, Topsham, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham), RSU 5 and RSU 1 (Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg, Woolwich) about ways to collaborate on other services, such as early childhood education and the transportation of homeless students.

Makin said partnering in the “Greater Sebago Alliance” regional service center would allow the districts to share services, and if approved by the state, School Board, and voters, would automatically give the Brunswick School Department additional state subsidy of about $38,000. She also said the department could see some cost savings as a result of joining the center.

“What (the service center) would give us is the opportunity to bulk purchase things like food, services, and also professional development,” she said. “It would allow us to be part of a substitute recruitment and also a diversity teacher recruitment, which we’re quite interested in. And there are several other things we can add as we go if we decide to move forward.”

Makin went on to say there’s “no legal, binding agreement in the process whatsoever,” and once the districts find out if the second half of the application has been approved by the state, the Brunswick School Board will need to vote on an interlocal agreement among the districts regarding the collaboration.

Following the School Board vote, Makin said voters would also need to ratify the decision before Brunswick could officially join the service center.

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or eclemente@theforecaster.net. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

Edited April 12 to clarify Brunswick’s collaborative discussions with West Bath, Lisbon, SAD 75, RSU 5 and RSU 1 are not connected to the regional service center application.

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