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Valley Unified school group holds first meeting in Frenchville

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — The board of directors of the Valley Unified Regional Service Center  gathered in Frenchville Thursday evening for their first meeting to choose officers and review the interlocal agreement.

The board comprises members from three St. John Valley school districts, a collaborative that learned Aug. 14 it is first in line to receive money from the state to build a new regional high school.

Newly selected VURSC executive director Benjamin Sirois presided in the absence of a president. The board first elected officers, including: Toby Jandreau of MSAD 27, chairman; Lucie Tabor, administrative representative for MSAD 27, secretary; and Gary Sibley from MSAD 27, vice chair. The board deferred choosing a treasurer until a later date.   

While reviewing the agreement, Benjamin Sirois clarified that he “volunteered to do this for nothing, since [the members of the board] are all doing [their] part.”

The board’s review of the agreement began with the statement of voting procedures. All actions taken require a vote of 7/9 of the full membership of the board, so that at least one member from each respective school district is represented in the decision. There is a provision in the agreement that states that if there is at least one director from each school district, then a 2/3 vote will be sufficient.

“We’ve got to start thinking more regionally,” said Sirois. “We have valuable gifts at our fingertips… We need to get the school districts and the communities to work together.”

Several Valley citizens have raised concerns since the possibility of construction of a regional high school came to light, with one of the main concerns being the location of the new school. Sirois said the location has not yet been determined.

“That’s not just what we’re telling people, we just don’t know,” he said. “It doesn’t just happen overnight, it takes time.”

While rumors of the school’s proposed location have caused an uproar among the three communities, Sirois said a site selection committee, made up of members of all three communities, will determine the building’s site. That committee will work with engineers to determine the best location for the new regional high school.

“You have to want this with the future of education in mind,” said Sirois. “If we embrace it with arms wide open, it is amazing how schools and communities come together.”

Sirois assured the members of the public in attendance that once the state education commissioner gives the “green light,” the board can proceed with site selection committee member selection. He also said the members of the committee will not just be school board stakeholders, but very diverse members who will be a “good representation of all communities.”

“We’ve got to change the way we educate our kids,” he said. “It’s important to keep in mind that, anytime, anywhere, kids have answers. There is no longer a need for them to recite information from memory.”

Follow Morgan Mitchell on Twitter @TheMaineMorgan

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