Apportionment committee to look at number of SAD 41 board seats

MILO — A committee made up of people from SAD 41 school board, select boards from three district towns and residents representing Brownville, LaGrange and Milo will examine the number of directors for SAD 41 via an apportionment committee.

 After discussing the concept last month, the board voted to proceed with the formation of the group during a meeting at the Penquis Valley School on Nov. 9.

The SAD 41 Board of Directors is made up of 10 members with five from Milo, three from Brownville and two from LaGrange. 

Before the community deorganized for the 2019-20 fiscal year, Atkinson had a pair of seats on the school board. The number of directors is based on population which, per the 2020 Census, are 2,251, 1,139, and 635, respectively.

Superintendent Michael Wright said he would reach out to Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin for the go-ahead from the state on forming an apportionment committee. 

“Do we follow the one-person, one-vote formula? The answer is we don’t because we don’t use the most updated Census data,” he said.

The apportionment committee may determine how many board members there are from each town based on a certain number per 1,000 residents. 

“The ultimate thing that might change is that the committee might decide how many representatives there are from each town,” Wright said. “The percentages might change or the number of representatives might change.”

Last month the superintendent said if the board is too large, then the issue of having a quorum arises. A half decade ago, SAD 41 had to reschedule some of its regular board meetings when a quorum could not be verified during the day of the evening session.

Board votes are weighted, but over the years the majority of school actions have been decided by majorities or near majorities, and tabulations beyond a show of hands were rare.

In other business, Business Manager Heidi Sisco provided the school board with information on district cost center expenditures months into the 2022-23 academic year.

“We’re right where we expect to be with the budget,” Sisco said, saying there is not much to report but the directors have the numbers to review.

The $10,839,851 SAD 41 budget  represents an increase of $622,367 from the previous year’s $10,217,483 budget

The day before the school board meeting, Milo Elementary School students got a lesson in the democratic process as they cast ballots in an election. Principal Stephanie Hurd said instead of voting for governor or representative to the U.S. House of Representatives, the children made their voices heard by deciding if they liked Oreo or chocolate chip cookies better.

“The chocolate chip cookies won hands down,” Hurd said, saying students learned about the voting process in terms they can understand. The pupils also received “I voted” stickers as are handed out at the polls.

Wright said there has been a change in the winter coaching ranks because District Nurse Bethany Heal will lead the Penquis Valley High School girls JV basketball team (Jess Atkinson had been appointed last month).

High school basketball and cheer practices for Penquis and schools around Maine start Monday, Nov. 21. Middle school sports have already begun.

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