SAD 4 superintendent search continues

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GUILFORD — Applications for the superintendent position were submitted at the start of the month and interviews with the leading candidates have been scheduled, the full SAD 4 school board learned during a March 20 meeting at Piscataquis Community High School.

“We have been through all the applications,” Board Chair Niki Fortier said. “We have ranked our applicants and interviews have been set up with the top four for next week.”

The job of SAD 4 superintendent was advertised in educational publications, daily newspapers across Maine as well as online, and applications were due by March 2. Twelve of these were submitted — several other candidates expressed interest but did not fully apply.

A 10-member search committee, made up of board members, district administrators, teachers and officials from the community, will meet in executive session with the top four candidates — the names of the top four candidates were not released — and the committee will recommend a candidate in writing. The finalist would interview with the full school board and a decision would be made from there.

SAD 4 officials have said the next superintendent could start on July 1, or earlier depending on how the hiring process goes.

In other business, Interim Superintendent Raymond Freve said he and AOS 94 Superintendent Kevin Jordan met with Maine Department of Education Commissioner (MDOE) Robert G. Hasson Jr. and other officials to discuss the application made to the MDOE for an Integrated Consolidated (grade) 9-16 Educational Facility Pilot Project.

Under the Integrated, Consolidated 9-16 Educational Facility Pilot Project a regional comprehensive high school would
be funded by the state with approximately ​$200 million set aside for the program. The facility is intended to serve as a model for the rest of Maine by encouraging neighboring school districts with declining enrollments to work together to
combine resources and reduce costs.

The school would offer a variety of academic programs from high school to college — through the University of Maine and Maine Community College systems — and training and certifications in various industries via a number of business partnerships. Similar education models are used in other states.

The application being made by SAD 4, SAD 46 of the Dexter area and the Milo-based SAD 41 — also involving the Greenville Schools, SAD 12 of Jackman and the Tri-County Technical Center in Dexter — ended up being ranked third on a list of three finalists with a score of 145 points. The application trailed the 150 points for the proposed project in the Houlton area and surrounding school districts in southern Aroostook County and the score of 160 points for a possible facility in the Fort Kent and Madawaska areas in northern Aroostook County.

Each applicant has a 30-day review period to look over the process for any errors they feel may have been made in the MDOE point totals and submit the appeal to the MDOE. After that the commissioner has another 30 days to review appeals brought forward and to finalize the “commissioner’s approved list” to bring back to the state board of education, possibly in mid-April.

Freve said another possibility could be to litigate. He was told litigation could postpone the allocation of funds until after the current the fall election when a new governor and Legislature, possibly with different views on the project and using the $200 million, are in place.

“I don’t want to take this center away from kids,” Freve said, as litigation very well may not be pursued.

Fortier said inclement weather postponed a meeting between local school officials on the appeal process, but she shared emails with the school board indicating those involved would like to appeal.

“We can at least submit it because the worse case scenario is nothing happens, and the best case scenario is we have moved up to second place,” she said.

One area that may be reconsidered is that 10 points were lost because SAD 41 did not join the application process until after the first step, and since the process began the top-ranked project lost a member school district.

“We were never told how many of them were going to be funded,” Freve said, with $200 million set aside for the Integrated, Consolidated 9-16 Educational Facility Pilot Project. He said for comparison a new high school in Sanford has an approximate $88 million price tag.

“I think those are the big points we are going to make,” he said.

Board Vice Chair Cindy Hoak gave a report of the budget committee, saying “We have met a couple of times, we have just begun going over the budget.”

She said the committee has reviewed a 2018-19 spending plan draft and possible assessments to the half dozen SAD 4 member towns, and looked over the figures again during a session before the evening’s school board meeting.

“Basically we are getting a lot less from the state again,” Hoak said. She said a reduced contribution from the state for the SAD 4 budget is the reason for an increase in the assessment.

“It is difficult because if we cut, it’s going to be people and programs,” Hoak said.

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