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1/30/2013 2:00:00 PM
RSU/SAD 40 Rejects Many Flags Again
By Shlomit Auciello

The board of directors of Regional School Unit/ School Administrative District 40 again rejected a proposal to have representation on the newly-formed board of directors of the Many Flags/One Community project.

The suggestion to revisit the Many Flags project was made by RSU/SAD 40 board member Lynda Letteney of Waldoboro. Letteney represents RSU/SAD 40 on the board of Mid-Coast School of Technology (Region 8) and is MCST's representative to the newly-formed governing board of the Many Flags/One Community project.

At their Nov. 2 meeting, the RSU/SAD 40 board considered a proposal to have two non-voting representatives on the Many Flags board. At that time two votes were taken, the first to not send any representatives to the Many Flags meeting and the second, framed in positive language, asking if the RSU/SAD 40 board wanted to elect two non-voting members to the Many Flags board. Both motions at the Nov. 2 meeting were defeated.

On Jan. 24, Letteney asked the board to reconsider its vote in light of the governance process now underway for Many Flags. She said budget decisions would have a direct impact on RSU/SAD 40 in terms of programs offered through MCST and costs that will be charged to any district that sends students to the vocational school that may eventually be part of the Many Flags consortium.

Supt. Susan Pratt said RSU/SAD 40 has already influenced the name of the proposed single-campus facility that would include a 700-750-student regional high school, a community college, MCST and other vocational training centers.

Originally called Many Flags/One Campus, the board changed the name to Many Flags/One Community in response to concerns from RSU/SAD 40 and others about the emphasis on a central location that could make access difficult for some students and add costs to replicate services already offered in existing facilities.

Letteney reminded RSU/SAD 40 board members that her role on the Many Flags board is to represent MCST and they could not expect her to speak for them in that capacity.

"That's a concern for me," Letteney said. "I don't know that you want to give away all your power."

Letteney said a Promising Neighborhoods Program planning grant was written with Penquis Community Action Program and has yielded approximately $350,000 for Many Flags to use in designing its program.

"It's a cradle-to-college grant," Letteney said. She said the Penobscot Bay YMCA and Trekkers are already involved in designing the program that would begin with pre-kindergarten.

"The governance rules are in the hands of the lawyer," she said. "They were at the point of crossing MSAD 40 out of the charter. I asked them to delay that until March."

"We send the most kids to the tech center," she said.

Letteney said it would be many years before construction of a new physical plant would be funded and the focus in the shorter term would be on regionalizing services. She said an executive director is being sought for a start-up period of one year, but might not be needed beyond that point. Many Flags is one of 10 programs, nationwide, that are seeking up to $6 million over a five-year period. Letteney said seven programs will qualify for that federal grant.

"Without RSU 40's input, it becomes very localized," she said, indicating that decisions would be heavily weighted in favor of RSU 13 and the Five Town Community School District.

Board member Ann Donaldson of Union spoke at length, revisiting objections that were raised at previous meetings.

"Since when did Many Flags usurp the governance of Region 8?" Donaldson asked. "I am not going to bow to that organization just because they are standing in the way of Region 8. They should be begging us. We will be a thorn in their side and they cannot go ahead without us."

She said RSU/SAD 40's members on the MCST board have power over decisions.

"We have four representatives on a 16-member board," Supt. Susan Pratt said. She reminded the RSU board that the MCST board voted in favor of Many Flags and that the MCST board sets its own budget, which cannot be amended by the RSU board, in spite of the fact that the technical school generates no revenue.

"Whether we are at the table or not, we are going to be assessed," Pratt said. "Do you want some say on how this goes or do you want them to do it to you?"

"We were snubbed so we have a problem," Donaldson said.

Board member Darrell Goldrup of Waldoboro said he was "beyond upset."

"I told you it would come back again and again and again," he said. He said SAD 40, as it was then called, asked to join with the districts that became RSU 13 and was rejected.

"Many Flags is desperate," Goldrup said. He said having two representatives on the Many Flags board would not help influence valuations in RSU/SAD 40's favor.

Board Chairman Danny Jackson reminded Goldrup that the current request to reconsider was made by an RSU/SAD 40 board member, not by Many Flags.

Guy Bourrie of Washington, who sits on the MCST board, made a motion to rescind the Nov. 2 vote, in which he opposed involvement with Many Flags. He pointed out the focus on learning beyond high school meant that local districts could end up paying for grades 9-16, adding four years to the program they already support.

"I don't see where it costs us a dime to get our say back," Bourrie said. "It's time to forget about our pride."

John Heller of Waldoboro seconded the motion, which required a 2/3 vote to succeed.

Gail Hawes of Union said there are problems with the governance of MCST and that RSU/SAD 40 should be dealing with those.

"If we sign onto that project [Many Flags] we are liable for the rest of the infrastructure of the whole Many Flags project," Hawes said.

Under the weighted voting system used by RSU/SAD 40, the motion was defeated by a vote of 505-398, with Donaldson, Goldrup, Hawes, Jackson, Wayne Luce of Warren and Sandra O'Farrell of Waldoboro, voting against representation on the Many Flags board.

The Many Flags/One Community project began as Many Flags/One Campus, with discussions with MCST and the two former school districts that now comprise RSU 13. In 2010 the Many Flags steering committee invited the Five Town Consolidated School District (CSD) to join discussions about the project.

That same year, following a request for a letter in support of Many Flags, the board of what was then SAD 40 stated that they did not support the project because it was not in the best interest of their students. While expressing interest in regional and collaborative educational models, RSU/SAD 40 board members have repeatedly asserted they do not want to support a new administrative layer or the building of a new campus.

Earlier in the meeting, the board accepted the resignation of Washington representative Cynthia Rosen, who cited her health as the reason for her decision.

The next meeting of the Regional School Unit/ School Administrative District 40 Board of Directors is scheduled to take place Thursday, Feb. 7 at Medomak Middle School. For more information call the RSU/SAD 40 Central Office at 785-2277.

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