BUCKSPORT, Maine — With the election Thursday of Bucksport’s four representatives, the new Regional School Unit 25 board now has a full complement of members.
In the only contested race, Tom Stewart was elected to the three-year term on the board, defeating Rosemary Bamford 98-41. Paul Bissonnette was elected to a one-year term on the board with 117 votes, and Tom Foster and Melinda Stegner were elected to two-year terms with 114 and 115 votes, respectively.
The RSU board now is composed of Stewart, Bissonnette, Foster and Stegner from Bucksport; Millard Clement and David Burgess from Orland; Laurie Boardman from Verona Island; and Lance Raymond from Prospect. The representatives from Orland, Prospect and Verona Island were elected in balloting earlier this week.
The eight-member board will be busy over the next few months as it prepares to launch the new school district. Under state law, the RSU must be implemented by July 1. In addition to many organizational details, the board’s main task will be to develop a budget for the new district, according to Superintendent Jim Boothby.
Boothby said the central office staff has been working on the budget, and the three existing school boards from Bucksport, Orland and SAD 18 (Prospect and Verona) have been meeting jointly to lay the groundwork for the first-year budget for the RSU.
“We’ve been working to bring the three separate budgets together and align them so that we’re looking at the same cost centers and budget items,” Boothby said Friday. “We need to have that so that we’re comparing apples to apples as we build this year’s budget.”
The board will have its “nose to the grindstone” with a short time frame in which to develop the budget, according to Boothby. The tentative budget timeline calls for the board to adopt a budget on May 19. Informational meetings then will be held in each of the four towns before May 28, the tentative date for the RSU 25 district budget meeting.
According to Boothby, the district budget meeting is similar to a SAD budget meeting in which the registered voters from the four towns meet and vote on the proposed budget. If the voters approve the budget, it will go to a budget validation vote held in each town. That vote is scheduled for June 11.
The new board officially will begin work April 28, the date for its first meeting. Boothby will recommend an agenda that will include necessary procedural and administrative items, including administering the oath of office to the board members, adopting rules of procedure, electing a presiding officer and selecting a chairman. The board likely will move into executive session to discuss the hiring of a superintendent for the new district.
The board also will need to select one of the existing districts to serve as the financial agent for the new RSU until July 1 when it officially begins operating. Board members also will need to establish the standing subcommittees. In addition to a facilities and maintenance committee and a curriculum and calendar committee, which are called for in the RSU agreement, Boothby said he would recommend that the board establish committees for policies, finance and negotiations.
Meanwhile, the RSU team is addressing some of the legal work required for the new district. Under the agreement, ownership of many of the school facilities in the individual towns will be transferred to the RSU. Boothby said they are working on the survey and deed details to transfer those properties as well as use agreements for the various facilities.