Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor Community School District School Committee member Ruth Macy took issue with administrators July 14 for attending a private fundraiser pertaining to the campus development project. Superintendent Robert Kahler said he and Boothbay Region High School and Elementary School Principals Tricia Campbell and Shawna Kurr attended a private fundraising luncheon put on by local businessmen Paul Coulombe and Steve Malcom. The amount raised at the July 13 luncheon was over $2 million which will go toward costs for hiring architectural firm Lavallee Brensinger, the committee’s choice, to complete campus development planning, Kahler said.
“Despite there being a lot of good faith towards this need … it looks like you're doing something in secret,” Macy said. “I just don't like the optics of that … When they start inviting people we employ, that now becomes a school function and that should be open to everyone. That's why I'm uncomfortable with it and I know there's a lot of other people possibly uncomfortable with it.”
Kahler said the reason for his and the other administrators’ presence at the luncheon was because they were invited, though he agreed transparency is key for the process and said he would provide as much information as possible from all meetings on the school website.
Former Superintendent Keith Laser mentioned the luncheon after the school committee and trustees selected LBPA as architects June 23, Campbell said in a followup interview. LBPA was "selected," not hired, because funds were not in hand, so formal hiring will happen when funds come in, she said. "The CSD board voted to accept donated funds for phase two of this project which is just that research piece ... Mr. Coulombe was having the luncheon with his donors to secure the sponsorship he said he would raise money for. Shawna and I weren't scheduled speakers at the event, we were invited so if anyone had any questions about the school or about the education, we could answer them."
It is paramount to have as many voices in the planning process as possible and community members can pitch in on the many subcommittees likely to come out of the CSD campus development committee, said Kahler. Once the school committee and Board of Trustees have established that body, subcommittees will be created and the public will be encouraged to pass along their interests in topics.
The subcommittees will give recommendations and information to the campus development committee which, in turn, passes its own to the school committee and trustees. “There's a lot of sort of rebooting to do. There are public hearings … and many, many meetings for people to come share concerns, questions, all of those things. So, it's very, very early in the process (and) at the end of that process, whatever the decision is, that's going to be voted on.”
Kahler said besides keeping the school website and Twitter feed current with documents and information, he encourages the public to ask questions about the process or how to access information.
Athletic Director Allan Crocker said fall sports will begin Aug. 16 and there are enough athletes to support the cross country, field hockey and football programs. Pending an application to Maine Principals Association, BRHS soccer players will be coopting with the Wiscasset Middle High School programs. In turn, WMHS cross country athletes will be able to coopt with BRHS. Crocker said cross country coach Nick Scott is returning to athletics.
The committee approved the 2021-2022 collective bargaining agreement with Boothbay Region Education Association. The decision was unanimous and without discussion. The BREA union membership will soon meet to vote on the contract.