School chief search puts RSU budget on hold
FREEPORT — Regional School Unit 5 has delayed its budget process because selection of a superintendent of schools has taken longer than planned.
Although the superintendent search committee held interviews on March 4, the recommendation of either Freeport and Pownal Superintendent Elaine Tomaszewski or Durham and Lisbon Superintendent Shannon Welsh did not take place at the March 11 meeting as expected.
RSU Chairwoman Laurie Poissonnier said the search committee wanted to postpone the decision in order to check the candidates' references and conduct second interviews before making a recommendation to the RSU board.
"The search committee did conduct interviews on the fourth, and held lengthy discussions afterwards," Poissonnier said. "At that time the committee thought we were not ready to make a recommendation to the full board." She said the committee needs follow-up information and answers to "some clarifying questions."
Poissonnier said the second interviews will take place March 20, and the subcommittee hopes to give a recommendation to the full board on March 25.
According to Poissonnier, state law requires a superintendent to present the budget, but since the RSU has no clear leadership, the budget process has been delayed.
"We didn't realize by not making a decision, that it would affect the budget process, but I think, even given that, we would have made the same decision," she said. "Everybody felt we wanted the information and we wanted to present the best candidate."
Poissonnier said scheduling conflicts made it difficult to get all 11 members of the search committee together before March 20, and the extra time will allow the group to check the candidates' references.
The revised budget schedule will begin in two weeks, with an all-day presentation at the Freeport High School library. Then, budget reviews with community input will take place on three Wednesdays – April 8, April 15 and April 29.
The RSU board is now scheduled to adopt the budget on May 13, and residents of Freeport, Pownal and Durham will have the opportunity to approve it at a tri-town meeting in May. The budget validation referendum will be held in each town in June, and the RSU will be fully operational by July 1.
In other business, the RSU communication committee is working to enhance the RSU Web site to provide current and accurate information to the community. Residents can now find audio and video footage of the board meetings online, in addition to the cable broadcast. They are also working on creating written information and press releases to communicate effectively with the community at large. For more information, visit rsu5.org.