April 21, 2018
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Valued education proponent dies at his home

By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Don Mordecai, a valuable former member of the Maine Charter School Commission and lifelong educator, died Monday at his home, according to a press release from Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen.

Mordecai resigned from his seat on the commission earlier this month for health reasons. On Monday, members of the commission described Mordecai as a financial wizard who was invaluable in the commission’s parsing of financial spreadsheets related to several charter school applications the commission has been working with over the past few months.

“Don could take a quick look at a balance sheet and just dissect it very quickly,” said Commission Chairwoman Jana Lapoint.

Commission Vice Chairman Richard Barnes agreed, and said that Mordecai was instrumental in the task of helping the commission get up and running in the months since the Legislature and Gov. Paul LePage enacted Maine’s first law allowing charter schools last year. Barnes said Mordecai was invaluable in developing how the commission would govern charter schools and how the schools would contract for outside services and respond to audits and financial reviews.

“He was also very helpful in our first round of reviewing, but he’s been unavailable for the last several weeks,” said Barnes. Even after his health issues made it impossible for Mordecai to attend meetings, he was helping through email exchanges as recently as a few weeks ago, said Barnes.

According to Bowen, Mordecai was a graduate of Colby College and received graduate degrees from Cornell University and Babson College. He led a long and varied career in education and had a strong history of community service. Barnes said Mordecai owned a business and had served as a consultant and chief financial officer for several education institutions over the years.

“He was perfect for our board,” said Barnes.

Bowen called Mordecai an “expert in finance.”

“In his short time with the Charter School Commission, he was a vocal advocate for meticulous and honest appraisal of the public charter school proposals,” said Bowen in the press release. “He was committed to providing students with enriching and effective alternatives in education. We are indebted to him for his invaluable service on the commission.”

The commission is seeking applications, which are due Aug. 10, to fill Mordecai’s seat on the board.

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