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Commissioner, School Districts Celebrate Reorganization Milestones
Falmouth/SAD 51 reorganization plan first to receive approval; Bath, surrounding towns first to form a new unit
February 5, 2008
AUGUSTA – Education Commissioner Susan A. Gendron applauded two groups of school systems for reaching milestones in the school administrative reorganization implementation. Gendron presented a Commissioner’s Award Feb. 5 to the members of the reorganization planning committee for Falmouth and SAD 51 (North Yarmouth and Cumberland). The planning committee is the first to complete a reorganization plan that meets the requirements of the school administrative reorganization law passed in June 2007.
Later that day, a Department representative presented a Commissioner’s Award at the first board meeting of the new Regional School Unit #1, made up of Bath, West Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg, and Woolwich. Those communities reorganized into a single school unit under separate legislation that set forth a plan they developed before the passage of the reorganization law. The communities began discussions years ago as they recognized that its member communities could not sustain the costs of education and needed to do more educationally for their students.
Gendron spoke to the members of the planning committee for Falmouth and SAD 51, and other members of the community, at Falmouth Middle School.
"At the heart of their conversations and their plan is quality education for all of the children in their communities," Gendron said, adding the plan “is what we had wished for.”
She called the plan “exemplary” and encouraged reorganization planning committees around the state to look to it as a model. The plan is posted on the Department’s website: http://www.maine.gov/education . She praised the communities for their leadership in developing and completing the reorganization plan.
The Falmouth/SAD 51 plan was submitted in mid-January, ahead of the next deadline, March 28, for submitting a revised plan. School systems must adopt reorganization plans by Nov. 4, 2008.
Gendron gave conditional approval to the plan which includes a local cost-sharing agreement that allows the communities to avoid cost-shifting as a result of the merger. But the Legislature must first adopt an amendment to the reorganization law for such agreements to be allowed. LD 1932, currently before the Senate, contains such a provision.
Beppie Cerf, chair of the Falmouth School Board and the reorganization planning committee, said the committee agreed early on that they needed to come up with a plan that would offer the best educational opportunities for all their students.
Other reorganization planning committees around the state are close to completion of their reorganization plans; some have slowed their work as they wait to see what happens with LD 1932. Several school units that meet exceptions in the law have filed complete alternative plans showing how they will restructure to achieve savings without hurting academic programs.
The Commissioner’s Award to the RSU #1 communities was presented at Morse High School in Bath by David Connerty-Marin, director of communications for the Department. Gendron, who had planned to make the presentation herself, was testifying before the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee and unable to attend.
The Commissioner’s Award recognized the communities’ pioneering efforts on behalf of students and noted that their work serves as a model to other communities engaged in the reorganization process.
“Their efforts show a deep commitment to the students in their communities,” Gendron said later. “They were a step ahead of the rest of us, and we are grateful for the lead they took.”
Contact: David Connerty-Marin, 624-6880/831-3313
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