Historic educational moment for Sebago as school board members elected

By Allen Crabtree

Special to The News 

SEBAGO — March 1 was a historic educational moment for Sebago.

The new Sebago School Administrative Unit (SAU) Board met for the very first time. It was an historic event and represented two years of challenging work negotiating an agreement with SAD 61 to withdraw and for Sebago to create an independent SAU. This agreement was overwhelmingly approved by Sebago voters at a Nov. 7, 2017 referendum and keeps Sebago Elementary School from being closed. It allows Sebago to run its own elementary school as the town used to and insures a top-quality education for Sebago children. Older Sebago students will be tuitioned to middle and high schools of parents’ choice.

At a special election on Feb. 27, 2018, Sebago voters elected the first three members of what will become a five-member SAU School Board. There were five candidates running for the initial three board positions. Elected to serve a one-year term was Joe McMahon, a two-year term by Tina Vanasse, and a three-year term by Wendy Newcomb.

The other two board members — one for a two-year term and one for a three-year term — will be elected at a town referendum on June 12, 2018 along with voting on the SAU budget.

The time line is very short to plan, organize, negotiate and put in place everything needed to get the new SAU up and running by this fall, so the board wasted no time in getting started. Immediately on the heels of the board elections, the new SAU board met for their first meeting at the Sebago Elementary School on March 1, 2018 to a packed audience. Tina Vanasse was elected as the new board chairman and Dr. Mark Eastman was retained as Sebago’s educational consultant and acting superintendent.

There has been an enthusiastic outpouring of support from parents, teachers and Sebago citizens to get involved in developing recommendations for the new SAU. Six citizen Advisory Committees have been set up and Dr. Eastman has been meeting and advising them for the past several weeks. The Staffing and Administration, Policy and Programs, Finance, and Technology Committees presented reports to the board on the status of their progress. Educational Programming and Operations Committees will give their reports at the next board meeting.

The board voted to authorize Dr. Eastman to advertise for the position of part-time superintendent, to have the board join the Maine School Boards Association (MSBA), to hire Berry, Talbot and Royer as the provider of business, accounting and payroll services, and to employ Brann and Isaacson to serve as school attorneys.

In other business, the board appointed Phil Lowe as the financial liaison with the Sebago town manager in dealing with town funds to get the SAU up and running between now and July 1, 2018 and voted to enroll the Sebago SAU in the Serving Schools program.

Future SAU School Board meetings will be posted on the Town of Sebago website, and anyone interested as the new SAU is created are encouraged to attend. Board meeting agendas and minutes will also be posted on the town website. Click on the Sebago Schools tab at www.townofsebago.org/Pages/SebagoME_Schools/index

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