Administration changes mark SAD 53 budget

Posted May 24, 2011, at 7:19 p.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — School officials for Pittsfield-area schools have opted not to fill an assistant principal’s position in the 2011-12 school year as part of a budget plan that reduces spending from current levels.

At the same time, the district has chosen a school administrator from Waterville to fill the middle school principal position held by Sandy Nevens, who resigned effective June 30.

SAD 53 Superintendant Michael Gallagher said Tuesday that pre-kindergarten through eighth grade Assistant Principal Gregory “Dewey” Kane is on a leave of absence and will “not likely return.” In the event that Kane does not return, Gallagher said his responsibilities will be covered by teachers who receive stipends for their extra work.

Gallagher said other than that, the district’s programming and staffing will remain virtually the same in the school board’s proposed 2011-12 budget of $9,873,261. That figure is lower than the current year’s budget by about $29,000, but Gallagher said the amount to be raised from local property taxes will be about $341,000 higher than the current year. The increase is due to the state’s formula for providing aid to schools, which requires a minimum local contribution.

Though the amount to be raised locally has increased by $696,000 in the past four years, the SAD 53 budget has dropped some $900,000 since the 2007-08 school year. Gallagher said the school board, after several years of cuts, didn’t want spending reductions to affect students.

“The board looked at a lot of alternatives for trying to reduce the budget further,” said Gallagher. “Then they went back to what they had built for the priorities in last year’s budget, and those priorities are what we can offer to students. There really are no changes in programming [in the budget proposal].”

The first step of this year’s budget validation process is a district budget meeting, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Warsaw Middle School gymnasium. The budget must then be validated by voters at a district referendum to be held on June 14. SAD 53 serves the towns of Pittsfield, Burnham and Detroit.

Gallagher said the new principal for Warsaw Middle School, who will begin July 1, is Kristin Gilbert. Two committees in the search process unanimously chose Gilbert, who for the past four years has been the assistant principal at Waterville Junior High School.

Gilbert holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a certificate of advanced studies in educational leadership from the University of Maine and a master’s in health education from Vermont College.

Gilbert, who will be paid $77,000 a year plus benefits, which Gallagher said is less than Nevens earned, previously served as health coordinator for Waterville public schools and has 13 years of teaching on her resume in French, health and outdoor leadership.

Gallagher said the district is in the beginning stages of hiring another administrator to replace Special Services Director Stacy Shorey, who has resigned effective June 30 to take a job in Milo, which is closer to her home.

“We’re going to sorely miss her, but her resignation is understandable,” said Gallagher, who said he will begin screening applications this week with hopes of conducting interviews in the first week of June.

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