ROCKLAND, Maine — The Rockland area school board put off a vote Thursday night on whether to extend the contract of Superintendent Lew Collins.
RSU 13 Board Chairwoman Esther “Tess” Kilgour announced at the start of the meeting that the contract renewal vote was removed from the agenda. She offered no explanation to a crowd of more than 40 people who filled the McLain School classroom where the board meets.
Kilgour also said that since the item was removed from the agenda, she also would not entertain any public comment on that matter. She warned people not to discuss the specific personnel matter.
Victoria Willauer of Owls Head asked how the board will handle the overwhelming feedback that is being given to them from teachers, administrators and the community.
“There’s an upswell of people who want to be heard, but there is a wall,” Willauer said.
Kilgour told people that their questions would not be answered at the meeting but that people could send email to their board representatives.
Gretchen Kuhn of Rockland urged the board to listen to the teachers and the principals.
“Please do what is right,” Kuhn said.
Dena Davis of Thomaston expressed concern about low teacher morale brought about by leadership issues within the district.
The board had been scheduled to decide whether to renew Collins’ contract, which expires June 30, 2014.
More than 150 teachers, representing two-thirds of the entire teaching staff in the district, sent a letter to the superintendent and board on Nov. 19, saying they had “a complete lack of confidence in the ability of the superintendent to lead us forward in a positive manner that is beneficial to the students of RSU 13.” The teachers said it was time for a change.
Administrators have also sent a letter to the board, expressing concern about Collins’ leadership and voicing support for business manager Scott Vaitones who was placed on paid leave Nov. 14 by Collins. Vaitones has said that Collins informed him that he plans to seek a termination hearing, claiming he was not pleased with the business manager’s performance.
Collins responded Sunday by saying that the school board hired him last year by a unanimous vote and that they knew there were several long-standing issues that had to be dealt with. He said he told the board he would not shy away from the tough stuff.
The board is scheduled to meet Dec. 12 with a facilitator Robert Hasson. The meeting had been scheduled for earlier this week but was postponed after protests were filed about the lack of formal public notice and that the meeting was to be held behind closed doors. The Dec. 12 meeting will be held in a public session.