School committee considering new bus options

Wed, 06/21/2023 - 8:30am

    With June 21 being the last day of classes, Southport School Committee is now preparing for the next academic year beginning in August. On June 12, the school committee approved a contract extension through 2025 for teaching principal Lisa Clarke. The committee is also researching a new school bus. The three-person board favors buying a gasoline-fueled three-quarter sized bus, but Chairman Adam Harkins warns those models are in short supply. “There is a longer wait time for three-quarter buses. So, I’m proposing we study our options, and come up with a plan later this summer,” he said.

    The committee received three bus quotes, two for regular and one for three-quarter-sized. Harkins will provide the other members with the bus quotes to review and plans on scheduling a summer meeting to consider their options.

    In other action, Clarke reported the summer school or extended summer services program begins July 5. Teacher Kimberly Burnham will lead the morning program which meets three days per week. She also  updated the committee about the Community Project. Clarke is part of a community effort to create a natural play place in the woods near the elementary school. She said the project has entered into an agreement with Kennebec Trail Co. “The plan is for Kennebec Trail Co. to begin their work in September with a a completion date in October,” she said. 

    The committee approved continuing contracts for teachers Nicole Tibbetts, Jennifer McIvor, Kimberly Burnham, Julie Brown and Caroline Ivens. Clarke announced teaching line-ups for the 2023-24 school year. Tibbetts will teach kindergarten and grade one. Clarke will teach second grade. Brown will teach grades four through six. There are no third-grade students expected for next year. “If we have any third graders I will teach them,” Clarke said.

    During the public forum, school officials learned two more students are headed to Southport next fall. Boothbay Harbor resident Tom Perkins told officials he talked to a family who plans on sending their children to school in Southport next year. “I spoke highly of both Boothbay Region Elementary School and Southport,” Perkins said. “But they are planning to move to Boothbay Harbor and wanted to send the children to Southport,” he said. 

    School officials encouraged the parents to contact Clarke to begin the application process. Clarke said tuition is based upon students’ needs and paid on a monthly basis. “Two more students, that is huge for us,” Harkins said.

    Superintendent Bob Kahler updated school committee members about the Community School District’s Building Exploratory Committee’s progress. The committee has chosen option No. 3, also known as the north site location to build the new Boothbay Region High School. CSD officials hope to place the $88 million proposal to build a new high school, add a middle school wing and renovate the elementary school on the November ballot.

    He also said the Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 board will discuss “regionalization” concerning a new high school. The concept began circulating around AOS 98 communities after a concerned Edgecomb resident notified Kahler about land for sale near the Boothbay-Edgecomb line. “Some people think this should be discussed at the AOS level,” Kahler said. “Moving a school into a different town creates a lot of questions such as governance, what happens to school choice and union contracts. AOS 93 is going through the process now, and I hope to get a lot of free legal advice from their superintendent.”

    The school committee remembered Ramona Gaudette, who recently died. She worked as a cook for Southport School for 55 years. "She was a valuable member of the community and a spectacular person,” Harkins said.  “She was involved in everything and anything. I’d like to thank her for all her years of service.”