Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98’s board met with Maine School Management Association Executive Director Steve Bailey Jan. 8 to discuss the superintendent search. Outgoing Superintendent Keith Laser's plans to retire were announced in November.
Bailey detailed the three months’ help MSMA can provide the board in marketing, community and school surveys, confidentiality and equal opportunity training, initial screening of applicants, setting up interviews, managing community visits for finalists and getting a candidate onboard.
“You're at a good time in the year,” said Bailey. “There are other searches that are starting out (and) you're not behind, but you're not too far out in front.”
Bailey said after creating a search committee, the board will want to establish desired traits of the superintendent through a stakeholder meeting. However, he also said with the COVID-19 pandemic, he recommends surveys, over in-person information gathering and public and school input.
“(You) really try to target some of the specific stakeholders. We have a way now through our survey collection data process of being able to desegregate that data, so you really can identify where the information is coming from.”
When MSMA begins advertising the job, the committee can choose the platforms for state, regional and national exposure. The main ones are MSMA, Serving Schools, American Association of School Administrators and National School Boards Association. The maximum possible costs at about 15 applicants would be $7,100.
Said Bailey, “Either you're all in or you participate … Even though other people may be involved in screening, they may be involved in the interview process itself, but when push comes to shove and it's decision time, it's the AOS 98 board's responsibility to make that decision.”
After an executive session, the board approved hiring MSMA to conduct the superintendent search for up to $6,500 with the preferred services to be determined by the search committee. The board also approved a search committee of three members from each school district – Southport Central School, Georgetown Central School, Edgecomb Eddy School and Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor Community School District – and AOS 98 Executive Assistant Evelyn Andrews as Central Office representative, for a total of 13 members.
Boothbay Region High School teacher and Boothbay Region Education Association President Mark Gorey said his wife Nathalie, a teacher at Mt. Ararat High School in School Administrative District 75, will continue to have COVID-19 sick days as was provided under the Coronavirus Families First Response Act which timed out Dec. 31. The federal government has since extended the program to March 31; however, employers are not mandated to extend benefits to those who used them the previous year, said Gorey.
“Somehow SAD 75 is going to be providing this benefit to their employees. Now, I don't know how they're doing it, I don't know if they're taking advantage of the new stimulus money, but I just want to give a shout out for that system and ask our respective boards to consider this.”
Gorey said with the COVID-19 cases continuing to blow up and possible new variants nearing Maine, it is reasonable to say people will continue to be impacted by the virus. “As Tier 1B employees … it would be a great morale booster if our boards would find a way to signal to their employees that they have their backs if they're out with COVID or a family member is.”
Said board member Stephanie Hawke, “Where that is not a required mandate, then I suggested we bring that into negotiations where it is a big budget issue … As soon as we start negotiations, then we'll slap it right on the table.”
The board discussed the potential for accepting Wiscasset high school students after former Wiscasset selectman Judith Colby and budget committee member William Maloney proposed a ballot measure seeking a committee to evaluate the financial impact of abolishing the high school grades and tuition out those students..
The CSD master plan architects from Lavallee Brensinger were the same who worked on the new Morse High School in Bath and they said Morse’s capacity is for little more than its current enrollment, Laser said. He said this would leave BRHS and Lincoln Academy as the obvious choices for Wiscasset students.
Said Laser, “We have 176 kids now in the high school and 10-15 years ago there were 282, so we could take them … If they do decide to go in that direction, I think we have great programs and I think it would be very alluring to send kids down our way … When and if they approve it, it's still a two-year process, so it would be downstream.”