SAD 4 and AOS 94 to explore cost sharing for next year

GUILFORD — While the two districts are in the midst of the application process for an integrated, consolidated grade 9-16 educational facility, SAD 4 and AOS 94 — which includes the Dexter-based SAD 46 and the towns of Athens and Harmony — are also looking into ways to save money and share resources in the more immediate future. During an April 11 meeting of the SAD 4 school board, the directors voted to send a written request to AOS 94 Superintendent Kevin Jordan to explore a one-year cost sharing agreement with the neighboring school unit.

“It is my understanding they will not move forward with this until we take a vote,” Superintendent Ann Kirkpatrick said, saying a very early look at the sharing of resources could lead to cost savings of up to $100,000. “At this point the AOS board has not voted on this point, at this juncture it’s cost savings to everyone.”

“We would be sharing a superintendent, special education director, transportation director and business office,” Kirkpatrick said. “Those positions would fall under the AOS,” with salaries, benefits and supplies spread out over the two units.

When asked Kirkpatrick said she may become an assistant superintendent under the plan “and the special education director would do the same thing,” as the exact realignment would be need to be determined.

Kirkpatrick, in response to another question, said the SAD 4 finance director position would be eliminated but Jennifer Soper recently returned to the office to serve on a temporary basis after the resignation of Cindy Pullyard to take another job.

“You won’t lose services,” Soper said. “This will help alleviate (expenses) without hurting the district.”

“It won’t affect kids,” Kirkpatrick said.

Sopar added the agreement would only be for one year, so the arrangement can be revisited and adjusted if need be.

The motion was amended with the word enter replaced with explore. Board member Corey Hill proposed the motion as he said he did not want to enter into an agreement without first seeing some more solid figures. The idea of adding a 30-day opt out clause was mentioned as a possible addition to any formal agreement.

Kirkpatrick said a meeting with AOS 94 officials is scheduled for April 24.

“In the office now we are working on the budget and we are also working on the application for the comprehensive high school,” Kirkpatrick said, saying the proposed 2017-18 SAD 4 budget is scheduled to be brought to the school board for a vote at the May 9 meeting.
“It is a lot of energy in that room to get that application done,” she said.

The state has about $100 million earmarked to fund a new comprehensive school, and the first application is due by May 1. If the first application is approved then SAD 4 and 46 officials would have 60 days to complete a second, more in-depth document.

Kirkpatrick said a link to information on the project has been posted at
In other business, the board voted to hire Jessica Dunton as the district technology coordinator for the next academic year.

Dunton has spent the last half dozen years teaching grade 3 at SeDoMoCha Elementary in Dover-Foxcroft and she told the directors about her use of technology in the classroom. Dunton said “virtual field trips” enabled her students to see different parts of the country.

“I really wanted to give the kids experiences that they couldn’t get anywhere else,” she said.

In 2014 Dunton was named Maine Technology Educator of the Year by the Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine.

“I love being in the classroom and it’s a hard decision, but I want to do more,” Dunton said. When asked, she said she was excited about the concept of a new, comprehensive high school.

The school board also elected officers, with Niki Fortier to serve as chair and Cindy Hoak to be the vice chair.

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