Lubec to address school problems

Posted March 19, 2010, at 9:07 p.m.

LUBEC, Maine — A public meeting has been set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 30, at Lubec High School to discuss two school-related issues.

Superintendent Brian Carpenter said the first issue discussed would be creating an Alternative Organizational Structure.

An AOS is a plan for consolidation of school administrations in accordance with state law requiring streamlining of administration in public schools. Carpenter said that creating an AOS would affect only the superintendent’s office and special services.

Recent changes in Maine’s school consolidation law would allow Lubec and Trescott, which make up RSU 85, to transform into an AOS and avoid $40,000 in penalties for failing to consolidate. Those penalties would be effective July 1.

Lubec is looking at the change both to avoid the penalty and because it was dropped from an AOS plan that involved 11 other towns to the west, centered on Machias.

“Under the new law, which dropped the 1,200-student requirement for consolidation, Machias doesn’t need us anymore,” he said.

“Creating an AOS has nothing to do with closing the high school,” Carpenter said. “I emphasize that.”

State education subsidy cuts have hit Lubec particularly hard, cutting $511,873 from the 2010-11 funding, reflecting a loss of about half of this year’s budget of $1.2 million.

State subsidies are based on land valuation, Carpenter said, and “we are property-rich and cash-poor. This is why consolidation doesn’t work for Washington County.”

The second issue, requested by the school board, is a discussion of closing Lubec High School, which is part of Lubec Consolidated School. The high school has about 40 students and Carpenter said no estimates for cost savings have been projected if it is closed.

Options for Lubec and Trescott high school students would be Washington Academy in East Machias, Shead High School at Eastport, or Machias Memorial High School.

Carpenter said some preliminary cost savings or expenditure statistics would be available at the meeting.

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