St. John Valley

MSAD 33 selects Castonguay as Valley Unified Board representative

ST. AGATHA, Maine — The MSAD 33 School Board appointed Gerard Castonguay as the third member to represent the school administrative unit on the Valley Unified Board of Directors at the school board’s Feb. 10 meeting. 


The decision to appoint Castonguay came after the Valley Unified Board of Directors voted to remove administrators from that body due to potential conflicts of interest. 

The original make-up of the Valley Unified Board of Directors included three members from each school administrative unit — one administrator and two school committee members. During the Jan. 28 meeting, the board first voted to remove, and then removed the administrators. The outgoing administrators participated in the vote.

The Madawaska School Committee appointed Bev Madore at its Feb. 3 meeting. Fort Kent is scheduled to choose its third representative later this month. 

Joined under the umbrella of the Valley Unified Educational Service Center, the three school administrative units of SADs 27, 33 and the Madawaska School Department have worked together to address declining enrollment and rising costs in education.  

In 2018, the state authorized funding the Valley Unified effort up to $100 million for a new St. John Valley educational facility that would replace three high schools and serve students from Grand Isle to Allagash.

Residents of the member communities will be asked a non-binding straw poll question Tuesday, Feb. 11 and Wednesday, Feb. 12, to gauge public support for the project. That question will help the Maine Department of Education determine whether to move forward with providing up to $100 million toward construction of the new St. John Valley school. Residents will also need to vote to approve the final project and have the Maine Department of Education sign off on the plan before it moves forward.

The first Valley Unified straw poll will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at Madawaska Middle/High School library. The second will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at Dr. Levesque Elementary School cafeteria. The final Valley Unified straw poll will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Fort Kent Community High School cafeteria.

While there will be a meeting to read the results of the straw polls Feb. 13, there will not be any action taken that night, Valley Unified Educational Service Center Superintendent Ben Sirois said. The new members will be on the board in time for the Valley Unified Board meeting on Feb. 26 at Fort Kent Community High School. 

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