Millinocket school board chairman resigns

Posted Dec. 21, 2011, at 7:54 p.m.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — Chairman Arnold Hopkins resigned his position on the Millinocket School Committee effective Wednesday, school Superintendent Kenneth Smith said.

The abrupt resignation came after a school committee meeting Tuesday night with a letter Hopkins wrote Wednesday to board Vice Chairman Kevin Gregory, Smith said.

Gregory and Hopkins did not immediately return telephone messages Wednesday.

Smith declined to comment further on the resignation and could not immediately forward the letter, saying he was about to interview candidates for several open school positions.

Hopkins had most recently made the news by saying school leaders had instituted a spending freeze in anticipation of a predicted $140,000 to $150,000 shortfall caused partly by the school system’s failure to meet its goals for tuition-paying Chinese students at Stearns High School.

Hopkins bases his estimate of the deficit, he said, on expenses plus a collection of shortfalls, including $72,000 resulting from three Chinese students enrolling at Stearns High School instead of an anticipated six; approximately $25,000 from expecting $321,000 in undesignated funds but discovering $296,603; and $10,000 in the School Department’s legal services account.

“These are just the glaring ones that I can think of that we have got going on right now,” Hopkins said Saturday. “I want people to be aware of what is going on and I want us, as a board, to start working on a solution to this problem, to see if we can’t alleviate some of the problem. I want the superintendent to start coming up with some suggestions as to how we are going to handle this problem.”

Hopkins was the only school board member to voice significant reservations about the school board’s ambitious China program and the goals Smith set for it.

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