SAD 61 pushes back Crooked River project referendum until March 2019

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Scratch one item off the November ballot.

With numbers still being generated by the architect and a tight window to schedule public hearings, SAD 61 has decided to wait until March 2019 to propose repurposing Crooked River School.

Superintendent Al Smith made the announcement Monday night at the school board’s regular meeting.

Smith pointed out that the cost of the proposed renovation has increased due to sharp rises in labor and materials. Seeing the project shot down by taxpayers back in 2016, when many noted their inability to absorb higher taxes, Smith said attempts are being made to trim the proposal, while trying to avoid impacting the educational process.

Smith penned a detailed explanation of the project, which appears in this edition.

Since those figures remain in the works, Smith and the Building Committee felt there would not be ample time to present the information and paint a clear picture for the public of the need to reopen the facility as a Grade 3–5 instruction space prior to the November referendum.

So, the feeling was better to delay than face likely failure.

In other school news:

  • Buses miss the mark. As part of the withdrawal agreement between SAD 61 and the Town of Sebago, the district sent three buses to Sebago.

When Sebago officials had the buses inspected prior to the start of the new school year, two failed.

“There are serious issues with the frames of the buses and an estimate was that it would take $20,000 to repair them,” according to the Sebago School Department’s July board meeting minutes.

Rather than repair the buses, Sebago Superintendent Marc Gendron looked at possible lease agreements. He landed two used buses for $6,000 each. The situation also put Sebago at the top of the state’s bus reimbursement list. By “spiking the engines” of the two failed inspection buses as part of the state program, thus rendering them unusable, Sebago hopes to gain 75% reimbursement on buses purchased next year. New buses cost about $80,000.

Sebago resident John Abrams questioned why the withdrawal agreement did not insure that the buses turned over by SAD 61 would pass inspection. There were no terms, he was told, according to the board’s meeting minutes.

SAD 61 Director of Transportation Andy Madura said all buses are inspected by the State Police. He noted that each year, SAD 61 sinks money into structural repairs to insure passing inspection, as well as keeping student passengers safe. He pointed out that Sebago officials selected the three buses in question, and those vehicles were taken off the SAD 61 repair list.

Sebago plans to use one of the newly-purchased buses as a backup and for special events. The SAD 61 bus and the other recently purchased bus will be the primary vehicles used for transportation.

Sebago is working with SAD 6 for bus maintenance.

  • Early enrollment reports from elementary schools showed Songo Locks at 424 students while Stevens Brook checked in at 285.

SLS Principal Cheryl Cline noted that all but one position was filled, with a Special Ed tech hopefully to be hired soon.

She also reported that 14 teachers completed 14 hours of professional development work this summer, while another 17 went through six to 12 hours.

Four student-teachers from St. Joseph’s College will be working at Songo Locks this fall.

The PTC will celebrate the school’s opening of the new car drop-off and parking spaces with a celebration on Sunday, Sept. 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with food, games and family fun.

SBES Principal Cheryl Turpin noted that enrollment has pegged classroom size at 17.

Lisa Caron, director of Special Education, provided numbers of students entering and leaving district programming. They were: seven in and six out at Lake Region HS; five in and 14 out at LRMS; four in and seven out at Stevens Brook; five in and none out at Songo Locks.

Three ed tech positions (SLS, SBES and LRMS) still remain vacant.

  • Sports participation is up at both LRHS and LRMS, according to Athletic Director Paul True. The high school figures went from 181 to 207, while LRMS jumped from 120 to 136. True noted that the MS hike is likely due to allowing sixth graders to compete in fall sports, except football.

Board Chairman Janice Barter suggested that parents of incoming sixth graders be made aware of participation requirements to avoid a crush of last minute physical exams needed before kids can compete. She suggested that information be presented at the annual “Step Up” night held at LRMS.

True paid kudos to AD secretary Julie Johnson, who processed more than 340 student-athletes’ paperwork prior to the start of the fall season.

On another front, an effort is in the works to name the cross-country trail at the high school after longtime coach Dan Dors, who passed away earlier this year.

The Coach Dan Dors Trail would include a granite marker. The proposal is before the school board’s Facility Committee for review.

True noted that Coach Dors started the Laker Invitational 17 years ago as a trial run for cross-country teams prior to the start of the regular season. This year, the LR boys won the meet for the first time.

  • Money shift of $290,000 to operations/maintenance line and $2,000 to extra-curricular line was approved. For the past two years, the district has taken money from the fund balance to pay for additional maintenance work.
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