VEAZIE, Maine — Members of the Veazie Community School Interim School Committee on Monday continued talks regarding how they will obtain superintendent services during the coming school year, their first as an independent school unit.
In separate referendums last November, residents of Glenburn and Veazie — two of the three towns that make up RSU 26 — voted to pull out of the school district they formed less than three years ago, leaving Orono the only member.
Heartburn over cost-sharing and a desire to regain control over local education were cited as reasons for withdrawing by residents of both Veazie and Glenburn. They also balked at the regional school unit’s system of weighted votes.
The withdrawals take effect on July 1.
Because of the looming budget development process for the coming fiscal year, a decision about how Veazie’s superintendent needs will be met next year must be made soon, Chairwoman Janine Raquet noted.
Raquet and member Susan MacKay said that finding a superintendent could be difficult because RSU 26 is one of several school units that are in the process of breaking up.
Three options members of the interim board have considered to date are:
• Appointing Principal Scott Nichols to the position, which would require a conditional certification from the Maine Department of Education.
• Contracting superintendent services with Orono, which also is searching for a superintendent but has indicated that it is not interested in such an agreement at this time.
• Negotiating a yearlong contract with SAD 22, which has agreed to allow its superintendent, Rick Lyons. Raquet said that SAD 22 board members have given Lyons their permission to contract with Veazie if he is asked and if he so chooses.
Several Veazie Community School staff on hand for Monday’s meeting said they were concerned that SAD 22 could differ philosophically from Veazie when it comes to education.
“That was a big concern of ours,” noted Veazie teacher Brian Gonyar.
Another concern teachers expressed was that if Veazie were to hire Lyons for the transition year, it could become absorbed into SAD 22. That could mean Veazie students would be required to attend Hampden Academy, thereby ending the town’s distinction as a “choice town” in which high school students are allowed to attend the high school of their choosing, with the town footing the tuition.
Interim board member Christopher Dalton said he did not see Veazie’s “tradition of choice” coming to an end anytime soon.
“I just don’t think that’s where we’re headed,” he said.
Raquet said the five-member interim board’s role was to make sure Veazie’s transition to an independent school unit went smoothly. Long-term decisions — including the process of determining how superintendent services will be provided and by whom — will be the responsibility of members of the permanent Veazie school board, who will be elected in June.
Julie Hathaway, RSU 26 vice chairwoman and a member of Veazie’s interim school committee, said she will be among the candidates.
RSU 26 Superintendent Doug Smith said last year that he has decided to serve as Glenburn’s superintendent. He also said that he, along with the current business manager, technology coordinator and payroll clerk, will provide their respective services for the RSU for one year, which means Veazie and Orono must find a superintendent and staff of their own.
Other matters that Smith said each of the three towns will have to address in the near future include making contract arrangements for student transportation and property and casualty insurance. The RSU’s contracts with Cyr Bus for transportation and the Maine School Management Association expire at the end of June.