Brewer, SAD 63 discussing high school contract, again

Posted Dec. 11, 2011, at 3:34 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 11, 2011, at 6 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — The SAD 63 board rejected outright a 10-year contract proposed by Brewer School Department in May — the same contract endorsed by Dedham and Orrington — and now has returned to the table with a rewritten version that decreases the amount to be paid to Brewer by half.

The contract, which was approved in January by residents in Dedham and Orrington, was modeled after one created by Mount Desert Island Regional School System and its sending communities and allows Brewer to charge its sending districts 10 percent of the tuition rate for debt service associated with money borrowed for improvements at Brewer High School.

The one-page draft contract was presented to the Brewer School Committee last week and the school board scheduled a Jan. 23 workshop to discuss the matter, Brewer Superintendent Daniel Lee said.

“It’s different from the contract with Orrington and Dedham, which allows the Brewer School Department to charge up to 10 percent [of the tuition rate] to pay for improvements at the high school,” he said. “The contract with SAD 63 lowers that to 5 percent.”

SAD 63 Superintendent David Anderson said Friday that talking numbers is always a part of contract negotiations, especially those for long-term contracts.

“It‘s a starting point,” he said of the percentage. “I don’t know where we’ll end up, but I’m confident we can work this out. I was pleased that they are still open to sitting down.”

The contract comes on the heels of news that the Department of Education has approved a $5.4 million Quality School Construction bond for Brewer High School, Lee said, adding acceptance of the money must be approved by residents in a local referendum, tentatively scheduled for late 2012.

A lot of the high school-age students from the SAD 63 communities of Holden, Eddington and Clifton, who have school choice, go to Brewer High School, said Anderson.

“We’ve had a long relationship,” he said. “We have 179 students at Brewer High School as we speak. That is a lot of kids.”

The SAD 63 board did not like the wording of the contract or the financial obligation and consulted a Portland attorney who helped them rewrite it, Anderson said.

“We still want to get this worked through,” he said. “We’ve reached out and said, ‘Let’s get back together.’”

CSD 8, which is made up of Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn, also rejected the Brewer contract earlier this year, following the lead of its sister school unit, SAD 63.

If contract negotiations between Brewer and SAD 63 are successful, another similar contract with CSD 8 is sure to follow. SAD 63 and CSD 8 created a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade unit, AOS 81, last year and Anderson is superintendent for both.

“What we’re trying to do is be proactive,” he said. “Brewer High School and [SAD 63] have a long relationship. I fully expect that to continue.”

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