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SAD 33 board gives OK to St John Valley education strategic plan

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — Members of Maine School Administrative District 33’s board voted  unanimously on Monday to formally adopt the Tri-District Strategic Plan, making it the final of three local school boards to do so.

The Tri-District group, consisting of representatives from SAD 33, SAD 27 in the Fort Kent area, and the Madawaska School Department, has been meeting for more than a year, looking at ways to regionalize some aspects of local education.

Some SAD 33 school board members and school administrators had expressed concerns about retaining local control of elementary education and other issues with regionalization and centralization. Those issues were among the topics discussed at a Tri-District meeting earlier this month, where consultant Gerald Clockedile said local control of lower grades was “essential.”

“That put a lot of things at ease,” board member Kristen Babin said Monday.

“I am ready to move on,” said Rose McQuarrie, board chair.

During the discussions prior to Monday’s vote, however, board members talked about the need for SAD 33 to continue being part of the regionalization process.

“They need to keep us in consideration,” board member Norman Cyr said, referring to the two other school boards in the collaborative.

SAD 33 operates Dr. Levesque Elementary School, located in Frenchville, and Wisdom Middle/High School in St. Agatha.

Cyr said that no decisions have been made yet regarding where the new regional administrative center would be located or who the new superintendent would be, so no one should assume it will be in Fort Kent or Madawaska.

The collaborative is also in the process of applying for state funds to construct a new regional high school, the location of which has yet to be determined. A final decision on that application is not expected until the spring or summer, 2018.

SAD 33 Board members agreed that the new regional high school is needed, as enrolments in individual local high schools decline.

Board members also voted on Monday to allow Superintendent Lisa Bernier to move forward with further collaborative state education grant applications, to assist with moving forward with regionalization. The state has another $5 million available to assist groups seeking to streamline local education administrative functions, according to Bernier.

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