SAD 61 drops ‘interim’ title

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Kathleen Beecher no longer has the word “interim” before her job title.

Last week, the SAD 61 School Board voted to name Beecher as the school district’s superintendent of schools.

The motion was drafted by legal counsel to address SAD 61’s policy, which requires an open, advertised search to hire a new superintendent. Directors felt Beecher, who has served as a principal, curriculum coordinator and assistant superintendent, was the best choice for the superintendent’s post. The decision saves SAD 61 money, which would have been spent on advertising the post in various newspapers and education periodicals.

Beecher, who has worked diligently to open the lines of communication with town officials and the general public, hopes to gain greater insight as to the concerns taxpayers may have regarding the upcoming budget and other school matters by starting a “superintendent’s blog” on the SAD 61 website.

“I am hoping that interested community members will read and/or respond to it. I plan to post two to three times each week with news and questions related to SAD 61,” Beecher said.

The link is:

“The purpose of this blog is for the superintendent to communicate with people in the communities that make up our district and to receive feedback,” the web post states.

Users can post comments, as well as read what others wrote. Here is how to post comments: At the bottom of each post, it says how many comments there are. On the budget questions recently posted, it says “0” comments, at press time. If a user holds his/her cursor over where it says “0 comments,” the user will see it is a link. Hit on that, and it will take the user to a window to post a comment. After the user writes a comment, he/she can preview it. If the user is happy with it, he/she can publish it to the blog.

“Once I monitor comments, all will see the post,” Beecher said. “You can put your name or comment anonymously.” (There is a pull-down menu.)

The first blog questions relate to the upcoming budget process.

“We are beginning the budget development process for the 2012-13 school year. I am wondering if community members have any specific advice for us related to the budget,” she wrote.

Questions include:

• What questions do you have about the district budget or the budget timeline?

• Do you have questions about specific district buildings or programs?

• Do you have budgetary advice for us or are there areas of the budget where you believe we should be spending less?

• Do you have budgetary advice for us or are there areas of the budget where you believe we should be spending more?

• Are there areas in the school district budget where you believe that we are not efficient?

“Thank you in advance for any ideas and advice. I will respond to questions asked and, if a discussion gets started about a topic, I will join in periodically,” Beecher wrote on the blog. “I will be moderating all responses before they are posted to the blog to be sure posts stay appropriate and do not have specific names, profanity, etc.”

As interim superintendent, Beecher saw the proposed school budget defeated twice before finally being accepted in late summer. She hopes to avoid a repeat performance, and feels the blog could be a difference maker.

“My hope is that through this blog and through other opportunities, we can develop a budget that meets students’ needs and can also pass at the voting booths this spring,” she wrote. “I welcome your comments and ideas.”

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