SAD 33 board members concerned about retaining local control of schools
FRENCHVILLE, Maine — Board members of Maine School Administrative District 33 deferred a final decision, Monday, Sept. 11, about whether or not to sign on to a new Tri District Strategic Plan, which was developed in collaboration with the Madawaska School Department and SAD 27.
The plan, unveiled in July, calls for a new regional high school for the three St. John Valley school systems while allowing each district to maintain local elementary schools.
SAD 33 Superintendent Lisa Bernier said Thursday that she and the board members agree that a regional high school makes sense, but still have concerns and questions about how much control of elementary education individual school boards would retain under the regionalization proposal.
“It’s scary for us,” she said. “We don’t want to lose local control of our elementary school.”
The district operates Dr. Levesque Elementary School, located in Frenchville, and Wisdom Middle/High School in St. Agatha.
Madawaska school committee members unanimously approved the Tri District strategic plan during their Sept. 18 meeting. SAD 27’s board of directors also unanimously approved the strategic plan at a Sept. 11 meeting.
The strategic plan offers little details on how local governance of elementary schools will be achieved, which concerns some administrators and educators at SAD 33.
Bernier is hoping many of those concerns will be addressed during a public meeting about the next phase in the new high school proposal scheduled for Oct. 2 in Fort Kent. That meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. in the superintendent’s conference room at Fort Kent Community High School.
SAD 33 board members are next expected to take up the strategic plan at their Oct. 9 meeting.
In other school business, Monday, board members approved a proposal for administrators and teachers to review the Wisdom Middle / High School class schedule for the 2018-19 school year.
A new schedule was implemented this year, which offers a variety of electives, based on what students said they had an interest.
However, Bernier said some of those classes have as few as five, four or even three students. Such low enrollments do not make for an ideal educational experience, the superintendent said. Advanced placement classes and similar college preparation courses have better enrollments, she noted.
“We have to look for a more efficient way to structure classes,” she said.