SAD 61 superintendent clarifies Sebago withdrawal discussion process

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

When the Sebago Withdrawal Committee drafts a proposal for the school district to consider, there will be no verbal negotiating with SAD 61 leadership.

Superintendent of Schools Al Smith outlined the process at Monday night’s school board meeting held in the Great Room at Lake Region Vocational Center.

When Sebago residents were considering entering the withdrawal process due to SAD 61’s reluctance to provide assurances that Sebago Elementary School will not be closed, especially if the Crooked River School repurposing project is approved in April. Movement organizers consistently referred to entering the withdrawal process as a legal means to bring SAD 61 officials to the table to negotiate some type of agreement that would keep the school open.

But, Smith shed some light on how such negotiations will play out over the next several months. Once the Sebago Withdrawal Committee has formulated a proposal — which will likely address the elementary school, as well as the town’s financial commitment to the school district — the proposal will be handed over to an appointed committee representing the school district consisting of SAD 61 School Board chairman Janice Barter and three or four other directors, along with the school district’s attorney, Smith explained. They will review the terms and then bring the proposal before the full school board in an executive session (closed to the public).

Smith noted that Sebago Director Joe McMahon, who is serving on the Sebago Withdrawal Committee, would be excluded from the executive session due to his role with the town-appointed group. McMahon was somewhat surprised by the news, but Smith noted that the district’s attorney had verified the matter.

Other members of the Withdrawal Committee include Tim Mayberry (chairman), Lisa Johnson and Richard Merritt.

“The board could then decide to approve the proposal or put forth a counter proposal, which then the Sebago Withdrawal Committee (SWC) could accept or reject,” Smith said.

By statute, Smith says the withdrawal process is specific regarding a timeline that the town and school district must follow, as well as when and how the process can be vacated. The SWC has 90 days from the first time the two sides met (Feb. 23) to submit a proposal for the school district to consider. Extensions can be granted by the Maine Department of Education, but each side must exhibit “due diligence” while working through the withdrawal process.

In other school board news:

  • Directors began their budget work yesterday, March 9. They will continue reviewing department and school proposals on Monday, March 14 in the high school library and Wednesday, March 16 in the Great Room at Lake Region Vocational Center, both sessions at 6 p.m. These workshops are open to the public. UPDATE: Directors finalized the proposed budget Wednesday night, and will not require meetings Monday, March 14 or 16. Story about the budget will appear in the next edition.
  • Stevens Brook Elementary School Principal Cheryl Turpin reported that the school’s backpack program is helping between 20 to 25 families. She added that the school’s effort to increase participation in the breakfast program has succeeded. With 191 students eligible for free or reduced breakfast, only 40 had previously taken advantage of the program. This Monday, SBES launched its breakfast in the classroom drive, and doubled the number served.
  • Loon Echo Land Trust awarded $300 to Sebago Elementary School for its 2016 Environmental Education Grant Program. The funds will be used for the annual visit from Chewonki Foundation along with a Winter Walk with the Audubon Society.
  • A $700 grant was received from the Target Field Trip Grants Program. The grant was written by Jill Flagg and will be used to take kindergarten students on a field trip to Pineland Farms.
  • Personnel: Karen E. Lewis was approved as a long-term substitute Family Consumer Science teacher at Lake Region Middle School, replacing Lauren Moulton who will be on maternity leave; Darlene Perry resigned as an administrative assistant, effective Feb. 23; Linda Hamilton was approved as a Title I educational technician III at Songo Locks School for the remainder of the school year (this is a new position, there were three applicants, and two were interviewed).


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