SAD 61: Few questions on budget; assistant supt. resigns; new LRMS assistant principal hired

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Few budget questions asked

Monday’s public hearing on the proposed SAD 61 budget was relatively short and without many questions.

Superintendent of Schools Alan Smith started the hearing with a PowerPoint presentation, giving an overview of each warrant article. The initial budget carried an overall price tag of $29,676,038 or a 4.1% increase. After some fine-tuning, the figure dropped $560,000 to a 2.1% hike.

Smith noted that the Capital Reserve account was pushed to $100,000 in anticipation of replacement of the high school track in a few years. Estimated replacement cost is between $250,000 to $300,000. The reserve account currently has $130,000.

Smith pointed out that the district will be looking at other projects including expanded parking spaces at both Songo Locks School and Lake Region Middle School. Putting money aside each year to address these upcoming problems is a “fiscally responsible” approach, Smith said.

The superintendent informed the small gathering that the district budget meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 12 in the high school gym. At 6:30 p.m., voters will act upon an article seeking to spend $70,000 from the undesignated fund to purchase about four acres of land behind Songo Locks School.

Smith said the purchase would help the district address various issues, including rectifying the placement of the school’s well on this land, not the existing SAD 61 property. With the district looking at possible building expansion and solutions to parking and traffic woes, the property could help address these matters.

The purchase question will be on its own ballot, not included in the proposed budget.

The vote on the proposed budget is May 12 at 7 p.m. in the high school gym.

One taxpayer asked why Casco again faces the largest school tax increase ($151,209)? Smith responded that the effects of a past revaluation are still being felt in Casco, since the state’s funding formula leans heavily on property valuation.

Assistant Superintendent leaving

Deborah Howard, SAD 61’s assistant superintendent of schools, is leaving the district at the end of the school year.

“It has been an honor and a privilege, both professionally and personally, to work for the common goal of success for the learners attending SAD 61 schools. While doing this, I feel fortunate to have worked with supportive, caring teachers and hardworking, student-focused administrators,” she said.

Howard added, “While regulations and state and federal requirements have changed, what has not changed in education is the dedication of our educators. We have educators who have been willing to think beyond the traditional classroom to do what is best for our learners. This district has gone through many changes and made great strides. ‘Laker Pride’ is a unique and a powerful thing.”

Not one interested in being in the public spotlight, Howard worked feverishly behind the scenes on a wide range of matters.

“I am an educator who has always tried to lead by example, inspire a shared vision, enable others to have a voice and work to do what is best for learners,” she said. “Working collaboratively has allowed me to develop many positive working relationships throughout this district. I wish my colleagues and SAD 61 great success in the future.”

LRMS Assistant Principal named

Matthew Lokken has been named the new assistant principal at Lake Region Middle School, effective July 1.

He replaces J.P. Yorkey, who recently announced his resignation at the conclusion of this school year.

Lokken is presently the middle school assistant principal in Dover-Foxcroft. Prior to becoming a school administrator, Lokken was a chemistry teacher at Kennett High School in North Conway, N.H. in 2009, a biology teacher at Presque Isle High School in 2008 and a science teacher at Hot Springs High School in Hot Springs, Mont.

He earned his master’s of Science degree in Educational Leadership from Saint Joseph’s College and a master’s in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Montana State University.

There were 30 applicants for the position, and four were interviewed.

Personnel

Marie Libby was approved as a Grade 3 long-term substitute teacher at Songo Locks School, replacing Johanna Bartlett who is transferring to a different position. Libby had been a student teacher in Grade 5 at Songo Locks. There were nine applicants, three were interviewed.

Honor Society trip ok’d

For years, one of the middle school highlights has been the National Junior Honor Society trip to Washington, D.C.

This year, the trip experienced a few bumps in the planning road.

Ben Braasch sought school board approval for the overnight venture scheduled from June 28 to July 2.

The trip will include nine students from Lake Region Middle School, as well as honor society students from Sacopee Valley and Windham.

Braasch outlined the itinerary, describing the visit as a “Go-Go Trip” — keeping students constantly busy and well chaperoned.

School Board member Stan Buchanan, however, had a few concerns — mainly, organizers failing to follow existing protocol regarding approval of such a trip. Superintendent Smith agreed that he, too, was bothered by how the planning process and some miscommunication unfolded, but he also sees the value of the trip to the nation’s Capitol.

Because three schools were involved, it did take time deciding on dates. There was also some miscommunication regarding who was eligible for the trip. Some parents were under the wrong impression that it was open to all students. The trip has always been open to just Junior Honor Society members.

Although the LRMS chapter has “20-something” members, others were unable to make the trip either due to previous commitments or due to costs.

The school board approved the trip request by an 11–2 vote.

 

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