KINGFIELD – The MSAD 58 School Board heard a presentation from Student Representative Isabella Norster during the monthly board meeting on Thursday, May 18.
Norster will be graduating in June, and announced this would be her last board meeting as the student representative. She thanked the board and administration for allowing her to serve in that capacity, and presented a slideshow with the results of a survey sent to the graduating class of 2023. Norster asked her classmates several questions, including their post-secondary plans and some of the greatest influences and inspirations during their high school years.
A common theme between the student surveys was recognition of teachers and their dedication to supporting and encouraging their students. Sports teams were another theme, citing the teamwork and close relationships formed between team partners.
Student Damian Thurlow wrote, “My biggest takeaway from Mt. Abram is that even if you come from a small town and school you should always strive to reach higher in your goals. Because if you don’t you’ll never know what you can accomplish.”
Norster corresponded with former student representative Cameron Walters as well. Walters wrote that Mt. Abram High School supports “a culture of getting involved,” something that has benefited him in his post-secondary education.
Norster’s presentation received resounding applause from those present at the meeting.
Other business at the monthly board meeting included renewing contracts for teachers and administrators. Second year probationary contracts for Eric Berry, David Cooper, Sara Gould, Chantel Kemp, Lucas Milliken, Christie Naas, Marie Richards, and Kristina Stevens were approved, along with a continuing contract for Brad Cobb.
Board member Sue Pratt raised concerns about the renewal of administrator contracts, stating that the current policy states that the board would receive a performance report from the superintendent for each administrator.
Superintendent Todd Sanders acknowledged that the policy said that a performance review would take place, but that the evaluation results were to be kept confidential and that his nomination of the administrators listed indicates that they are competent and qualified for the job. Sanders said that evaluation of the administrators is not the responsibility of the school board, but if there was an issue with an administrator the board would address it in an executive session.
Kim Jordan, board member from Kingfield, said that at one point the board had agreed to transition performance reviews of administrators from the board to the superintendent. Other board members were split, with some recalling the transition and others not. After some conversation the board approved the nominated administrators for one-year contracts. These included Maggie Adams, Tim Richards, Ronda Fournier, Sabrina Reed-Carrier, Scott LeHay, and Hope Gould.
The question of the Future Planning Committee was raised again, along with an inquiry about the Regional Education group that includes four MSAD 58 board members along with stakeholders in Carrabassett Valley and Eustis. The regional group has held closed meetings thus far, discussing the future of education in the region. MSAD 58 board members raised concerns about the closed meetings, and additionally asked for the MSAD 58 Future Planning Committee meetings to resume. This request was voted down by a majority of the board.
Previously the MSAD 58 board voted to pause Future Planning Committee meetings to ‘allow the dust to settle’ from the reconfiguration of the district.
In other business, teacher James Danala presented two field trip requests for the school board to consider. The high school has over ten years of trips to Costa Rica, organized by Stephen Parrett. Parrett will be retiring, and Danala, along with Brandy Pierce, would like to see the trips continue.
The Costa Rica trip was originally removed from the list of field trip requests for funding in the upcoming budget, as it was believed that the trip would not take place after Parrett’s retirement. The district would cover substitute teachers for two teachers to chaperone the trip. Board member Barbara Barnes asked about funding that expense; Danala is looking to potentially fundraise outside of the school budget for the request, since the trip was not included in the budget.
The board approved the preliminary steps to gather interest and start planning for the trip, with the understanding that a formal field trip authorization will be required in the future.
The other trip is the annual Moose River Rafting Trip that the Outdoor Club takes each summer. This request was included in the funding request for the school budget, for a total of $1,480 for the district to provide transportation to and from the trip locations. The budget has not yet been approved.
Barnes asked if parents could provide transportation for students to attend the trip. Danala reported that they have done so in the past, but that the logistics are complicated to make sure everyone arrives where they need to be at the right time and with the appropriate equipment and gear. He asked the board to fund transportation for this year’s trip and said that they can plan ahead for parent transportation in future years if necessary.
Barnes agreed that the trip is worthwhile but stated that she could not support the district funding it with the current budget. A majority of the board voted in favor of the Moose River trip.
With regards to the budget, the MSAD 58 District Budget Meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 23, at 6 p.m. at the Mt. Abram High School. The Budget Validation Referendum will be Tuesday, June 13, at the local town offices. Information on the budget can be found at msad58.org