Site Selection Committee member gives some insight into VU choice for regional school site

I was heartened by the Valley Teachers Associations’ and Carl Chasse’s recent letters about the proposed new school. 

One of the major problems in this country and our beloved St. John Valley is a pressing need to upgrade our educational infrastructure, which I see as physical facilities and delivery of curriculum to our students. I repeat, in 10 words or less: Physical facilities and delivery of curriculum to our students.  Build the needed physical facilities and then fill them with curricula of all kinds.

I served on the Site Selection Committee for the new school as a representative for Madawaska. I want to assure everyone that, contrary to SAD 27’s assertions in the press and elsewhere that the matrix process was changed at the last minute to slant to Frenchville is completely bogus.

The matrix WAS changed at the end of the process, but the changes slanted it toward the Fort Kent site, not Frenchville. And Fort Kent still came up short on the point total.  That’s the main reason the SAD 27 reps on the Site Selection Committee voted at our last meeting to go with the Frenchville site. They saw the facts supported Frenchville, not Fort Kent.

I want to give you all some background information. When I agreed to serve on the committee, I immediately went to work to educate myself as to what my task was. I was fortunate to be appointed to sit in and participate in the selection of an architect to begin the facilities part. At the interview meeting I was not only able to ask questions during the individual interviews, but also was able to get copies of their proposals ahead of time. I did not have a vote as to who was selected, but I was able to give input to the decision makers prior to the vote. 

One of the documents presented by the firm that was ultimately selected as the architect was a “matrix” to objectively evaluate potential sites for the facilities. They put four copies on the table. There were about 20 of us around the table. I got up from my seat and went over and took one and eventually brought it home with me. I started studying it that night.  

My point is that I know that matrix inside out. It was objective and eventually proved its merit.  And the Frenchville site was unanimously selected as the best site, in part based on the matrix point totals.

Somehow after that everything went to hell. As seems to be our bent here in the Valley, we are really adept at shooting ourselves in the foot with our mouths. And we are hurting students in the process.  

Bottom line: the SAD 27 Board needs to call an emergency meeting and unanimously vote to support the Frenchville site and rescind all their letters and lawsuits and protests. And send a letter to the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education confirming that.  

To all you social media users and everyone else: In my honest opinion,  only that will enable the process to start moving forward again. There are only a few weeks left to do this. The alternative is we lose the school.

Paul A. Cyr lives in Madawaska.

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