June 21, 2018
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Midcoast school boards to decide on proposal for revamping high school, postsecondary education in region

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

WARREN, Maine — The ball now rests in the courts of school boards from Waldoboro to Islesboro on a proposal to revamp the high school and postsecondary education of the region.

“This could be a tremendous economic engine for the Midcoast,” said Five-Town Community School District Superintendent William Shuttleworth during a Monday evening meeting of the school boards from Waldoboro to Islesboro.

He said that the Many Flags/One Campus proposal could attract families to the region and businesses that want to take advantage of the educated, trained work force.

“Maine has one of the highest graduation rates in New England but one of the lowest rates of students attending college,” he said.

The Many Flags proposal calls for a high school, vocational school, community college, university and industry training centers on one campus.

Alan Hinsey, the executive director of the Many Campus Foundation, said the next step is for the board of directors of RSU 13, the Five-Town CSD, SAD 40, Vinalhaven, North Haven and Islesboro to discuss the governance of the Many Flags plan and then offer revisions.

The goal then is for the boards to vote on the governance proposals in September.

The plan unveiled to the public Monday night calls for the creation of an 11-member Many Flags Board. The members of that board will be appointed by the boards of the individual school districts. RSU 13, SAD 40, the CSD, and the Region 8 Vocational Center will each have two representatives on the board. Each of the islands, the Maine Community College System and the University of Maine System will have one representative.

The first action of the new board will be to develop a budget and hire an executive director and determine a cost-sharing formula for the various parts of the Many Flags organization.

The combined high school will be owned by the RSU, the vocational school will be owned by Region 8, and the recommendation is for the remaining land, buildings and common areas to be owned by a private, nonprofit third party.

Space and facilities on the campus may be leased to other tenants such as a day care, wellness center, fitness center, business support agencies, restaurants, bookstore and student banking center.

The key to the success of the Many Flags plan will be for each of the school districts to agree to common scheduling, and flexibility.

Shuttleworth noted that a Camden Hills Regional High School student in Rockport could take a course offered at Medomak Valley High School by the use of interactive technology, without having to go to Waldoboro.

There is no timetable for when a new campus would be established. Hinsey said the earliest that the state would include money in its budget is July 2013. But then the process of building a school could be several years.

There is no location selected yet for a site. The Many Flags Foundation had eyed a parcel on Route 131 in South Thomaston, but the option on that land expired.

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