FREEPORT – The new 11-member Regional School Unit 5 Board of Directors hit the ground running with a three-hour organizational meeting last week.
At the Jan. 29 meeting the board established term limits, nominated leaders, discussed budget and meeting schedules, and created subcommittees for policy, negotiations, and finance.
In addition to creating the structure of the board, the group must also select a superintendent for the Freeport-Pownal-Durham school district. Elaine Tomaszewski is the superintendent of Freeport and Pownal, and Shannon Welsh is the superintendent of Union 30, which serves Durham and Lisbon. Both have been a part of the consolidation process since discussions began, and both have contracts through June 30, 2010.
The board must nominate an interim superintendent to serve through July, or hire a permanent superintendent. It could conduct an internal search, or an external search using the help of past or present School Board members, the New England School Development Council, or Maine School Management Association.
As a way to research the options and devise a procedure to name a superintendent, Jen Kaplan, Beth Parker and Cori Holt will serve on a superintendent selection subcommittee. They were expected to report their findings on Wednesday, Feb. 4, and the board was expected to take action on their recommendation.
Tomaszewski said the decision to approve a superintendent should be made “as soon as practical.”
“The sooner this takes place, the sooner uncertainties will end,” she said.
For the five-month interim period, board members decided, Laurie Poissonnier of Durham will serve as chairwoman and John Morang of Freeport will serve as vice chairman.
Poissonnier is the chairwoman of the Durham School Board and was a tri-chairman of the Reorganization Planning Committee. Morang serves on the Freeport School Committee, and was a selectman in Durham and the head of the math department at Mt. Ararat High School for 15 years.
Freeport representatives Kristen Dorsey and Brenda Kielty will serve one-year terms, Nelson Larkins and Beth Parker will serve two-year terms, and Morang and Betsy Peters will serve three-year terms.
From Durham, Poissonnier will serve for one year, Melinda McKechnie will serve a two-year term, and Cori Holt will serve for three years.
Pownal residents Jen Kaplan and Eric Dube will serve two- and three- year terms, respectively.
In addition to the superintendent subcommittee, three other subcommittees were created.
A three-person Policy Subcommittee will focus on school, local and state law policies for the RSU. It is made up of McKechnie and Holt of Durham, and Dorsey of Freeport.
The Finance Subcommittee, comprised of Kaplan and Dube of Pownal and Morang of Freeport, will review and approve payroll, warrants and accounts payable. They will work with the business manager and superintendent to review documents.
The Negotiation Subcommittee will be made up of a Professional Subcommittee and a Support Staff Subcommittee. These subcommittees will work on collective bargaining, teacher and administrative contracts, wages and benefits. Larkins and Poissonnier will serve on the Professional Subcommittee, and Parker and Kielty will serve on the Support Staff Subcommittee.
The board unanimously voted to establish cost sharing for the interim period using a budget of nearly $74,300 through July 1, 2009.
The RSU interim budget includes the cost of an interim superintendent, administrative assistant and office staff, legal and moving expenses, insurance, software and training, and board of directors stipends.
As suggested by the RPC, each town will contribute funds to the interim RSU budget. Freeport will contribute 50 percent of the budget, or $37,000; Durham is responsible for 30 percent, or $22,000; and Pownal will contribute $15,000, or 20 percent. After July 1, Freeport will contribute 66 percent, 21 percent will come from Durham, and 13 percent from Pownal. The cost-sharing method was established in the consolidation plan and approved by voters.
The board will hold a series of public meetings to review the budget and accept public input throughout March. A spending plan is expected to be finalized by the middle of May, when there will be an annual budget meeting for the residents of the three towns. There will be a budget validation referendum in June.