SAD 4 narrows search for new superintendent to two candidates

By Bill Pearson
Staff Writer

    GUILFORD — The SAD 4 Superintendent Search Committee has narrowed the field down to two for replacing Superintendent Paul Stearns and plan on having a special June meeting to announce his successor. The district received eight applications and interviewed four candidates before reducing the field to two.

    “Board Chairman George Nuite’s intent is to bring forward a candidate at the special meeting in June,” said Stearns, who is retiring in October.
    The announcement was made during the school board’s May 15 meeting. The school board also finalized their $7,240,311 budget recommendation for the 2013-14 school year. The directors voted 14-1 in favor of the proposal. The only director to vote against the budget proposal was Ann Bridge of Parkman.
    The proposed budget is $78,289 more than this year’s budget. Based on preliminary state budgetary figures, the district is expected to raise $3,110,714 while the state provides $3,304,447. This would require local taxpayers to contribute $217,734 more next year and receive $165,327 less from the state.
    Stearns estimated the increased cost to local taxpayers represented about a one-mil increase in the school budget.
    “The combination of a reduced state subsidy with an increased local requirement means the district was $324,650 in the hole even before the committee began discussing the budget,” Stearns said.
    The proposed budget reflects an elimination of 4.25 teaching positions, two educational technicians, and one administrative position. The directors made the cuts to offset increases in personnel costs, health insurance, materials, mandated student services and other fixed costs.
    The district will hold at budget hearing at 6 p.m., on Thursday, May 30 in the Piscataquis Community Elementary School cafeteria. The budget meeting will follow at 7 p.m. The budget validation vote will be held on Tuesday, June 11 during the statewide referendum election.
    In other action, the board unanimously approved to hold a special referendum to vote on the pellet boiler bond. District officials were not able to meet the deadline to put the proposal on the June 11 ballot. District voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, June 25 to decide whether to approve a $680,000 bond to replace their two school’s primary heating systems with pellet boilers.
    The project would include the installation of pellet boilers and storage silos at both the elementary and secondary schools. The district would relocate one of the two high-efficiency 2006 Buderus oil-fired burners into one of the other school buildings.
    The pellet boilers are expected to heat the schools for about 90 percent of the time, according to Stearns. The district has been approved for a $406,000 Quality School Construction Bond to assist in paying for the new system. The QSCB is allows the federal government to lend money to school districts with near-zero interest. The remainder of the project will be funded through traditional lending sources.
    “This will not cost taxpayers any additional money because the savings accrued by using wood pellets will pay for the installation of the biomass boilers,” Stearns said. “We could pay for the project in eight years, but the interest rate is so attractive we’ve decided to stretch the payments over 12 years.”
    If the referendum is approved, the contract will be awarded to the winning bidder, Norris A. Preble, of Madison, on June 28 and construction would begin on July 8.
    The district will hold public information session at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18. District officials hope the new heating system would be in operation by December.
    The school board will meet next at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11 in the Piscataquis Community Elementary School cafeteria.

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