6/18/2014 2:00:00 PM Wiscasset School Board Elects New Chair, Swears in New Members
By Kathy Onorato
Two new members were sworn into office and took their seats on the Wiscasset School Board on June 11, however, both abstained from voting as the board elected a new chairman.
New board members Chelsea Haggett and Michael Dunn, elected June 10, took their seats on the board after they were sworn into office by Wiscasset Town Clerk Christine Wolfe. Dunn will take the seat vacated by Sharon Nichols and finish a two-year term; Haggett received 85 write-in votes to earn the open three-year term on the board.
Vice Chairman Steve Smith was elected the board's new chairman, beating out current Chairman Glen Craig, who will serve as vice chairman for the upcoming year. The change will take effect July 1.
Board member Eugene Stover, in making the nomination of Smith, said the board needed a change in leadership. Craig was nominated by new board member Dunn.
"The chairman's responsibility is to keep the board informed and I haven't seen that this year," Stover said.
Craig said he does not micromanage and it was the board's responsibility to know when the meetings are.
"I have personally enjoyed being chairman," Craig said.
Defending his leadership on the board, Craig said his primary goal was for the board to be as transparent as possible in conducting the board's business.
"The real duties of the chairman is to run clear, concise meetings," Craig said.
Smith told Craig there had been a little too much arguing among board members and it needed to stop.
"One of them is gone," Craig said.
Smith said he could focus on the important issues facing the board, including school consolidation, which he would like to begin work on as early as October; contract negotiations; finding savings in the 2015-2016 budget; and beginning discussions with other towns for possible better educational options.
Smith received two votes, his and Stover's; Craig voted for himself; and the two new board members, Haggett and Dunn, abstained from voting in the election.
Both Haggett and Dunn expressed that they lacked the information and experience to choose between Smith and Craig.
"I would be guessing," Haggett said.
Business office services
RSU 12 Superintendent Howard Tuttle told the Wiscasset School Board his district is all set and ready to begin providing business office duties to the Wiscasset School Department.
Belinda Waterhouse, business manager for RSU 12, told the board she has already begun the process of separating Wiscasset's payroll data and other financial information from the RSU 12 system into a separate program, which will be up and ready to meet the Wiscasset School Department's first payroll.
The cost of the service is expected to be about $100,000, which is expected to save Wiscasset about $40,000, Dorr said.
Dorr told the board even though there is some underlying tension with Wiscasset's separation from RSU 12, it is time to move past it and begin forming a new relationship.
"It's about more than finances, it's about kids as well," Dorr said. "We created a nice partnership."
Dorr said a number of students in RSU 12 will likely come to Wiscasset and the two districts will have discussions around curriculum and other matters in the future.
Dorr thanked Tuttle and the RSU 12 Board of Directors for agreeing to provide the service, saying it was the best possible arrangement.
"They have what we need," Dorr said.
"We are happy to do it," Tuttle said.
Tuttle did share a concern about the approximately 30-mile distance between Wiscasset and Somerville, where the RSU 12 central office is located.
"It may make it a little more challenging," he said.
Interim superintendent search
Vice Chairman Steve Smith reported that the search committee will conduct interviews of the top three candidates for the new interim superintendent and a decision could come as early as June 26.
The board approved the following superintendent's nominations: Dawn Jones, middle school science; Lee Fetters, middle school English/language arts; Neera Harmon, primary school guidance; Michael Giampetruzzi, district-wide gifted and talented; and Paul Foley, middle school soccer coach.
The board gave the superintendent approval to fill positions over the summer months. Dorr said during the summer months it can be difficult for a board to get together to approve nominations, and delaying approval sometimes results in the loss of good candidates.
"Thank you, this is enormously helpful," Dorr told the board.