ROCKLAND, Maine — The Regional School Unit 13 board huddled behind closed doors for an hour Monday evening to discuss an unspecified personnel matter and the chairwoman of the board came out of the session to say progress had been made.
The board voted 11-1 to hold the closed-door meeting with Rockland board member Carol Bachofner casting the vote against the private session.
When asked whether the personnel being discussed would be in attendance, board chairwoman Esther “Tess” Kilgour said yes.
Only board members attended the hourlong meeting.
“Progress has been made,” Kilgour said after the meeting without specifying what had been discussed.
Kilgour praised the board, saying that all 12 members attended the meeting on short notice during Thanksgiving week. The meeting was called Monday morning.
The board has been wracked with sharp disagreements for more than a year. At its Nov. 7 meeting, Superintendent Lew Collins walked out as the board heatedly debated how and when to evaluate its top administrator. Board Vice Chairman Loren Andrews and Kilgour sparred over her refusal to let the board vote on setting a date for the superintendent’s evaluation. The board ultimately voted to hold the evaluation sessions during the first two weeks of December.
Administrators and teachers have been critical of Collins with the administrators submitting a letter to the board on Nov. 5 saying that the superintendent was trying to make business manager Scott Vaitones a scapegoat for financial problems he had a role in creating. Vaitones was put on paid leave Nov. 14 by Collins.
The business manager said the superintendent informed him that he will be holding a termination hearing. That hearing had not been scheduled as of Monday.
The teachers also submitted a letter to the board last week saying they had no confidence in Collins’ leadership. This followed a survey done by the teachers in early October that found that 112 of 135 teachers surveyed felt they could not bring concerns to the superintendent without fear of retribution.
Kilgour said after the Monday evening meeting that the board will be meeting three times next week concerning the superintendent situation. Collins’ contract expires June 30.
On Dec. 2, the board will meet with facilitator Robert Hasson, deputy executive director for the Maine School Management Association, as it prepares to begin Collins’ evaluation.
The board will meet on Dec. 3 to discuss the evaluation and possibly again on Dec. 5.
Individual board members have submitted evaluations of Collins to Kilgour, who said she will put together a summary for the Dec. 3 meeting.