Brewer voters to revisit superintendent, board recall changes

Posted July 14, 2015, at 9:48 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — Brewer voters likely will see a couple of familiar charter amendment proposals at the polls in November.

The first will ask residents whether they want to eliminate the requirement that the Brewer School District superintendent live in the city. The second will ask whether they want to have the authority to recall a member of the school committee. Councilors set a pair of public hearings for both questions during their regular meeting on Tuesday night.

Voters saw those questions on the ballot in June, when they supported the Brewer School Department’s $20.9 million budget by a 478-188 vote.

However, the small turnout meant the two charter amendment proposals failed automatically, in spite of strong voter support. The residency requirement repeal drew 475 votes in favor, 187 against. The push to establish a recall provision for school board members drew 539 votes in favor, 111 against.

For the ordinance changes to pass, 1,261 voters — 30 percent of the voters in the last gubernatorial election — would have needed to cast ballots. Instead, just 670 residents went to the polls.

City Clerk Pamela Ryan said sufficient turnout is far more likely in a November election than in a June vote.

A public hearing will be held for each of the charter change proposals during the regular council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11.

Brewer school officials have said it will be much easier to field qualified applicants and find the city’s next superintendent if those applicants aren’t required to move to Brewer to work there. Voters put that requirement into place at the polls three years ago.

The city’s search for its next superintendent continues, according to school board chairman Kevin Forrest. Allan Snell, a former superintendent in Brewer and Orrington, has taken responsibility for the district on an interim basis.

“The search is remaining open until we find a suitable candidate,” Forrest said.

Former Brewer Superintendent Jay McIntire’s time in Brewer ended in June, several months after the school committee decided not to renew his contract for undisclosed reasons.

McIntire has moved on to serve as interim superintendent of RSU 78 in Rangeley.

The school committee recall provision arose from the realization last year that there isn’t an existing process for removing a board member. A recall option already exists for city councilors. There has been some controversy surrounding the Brewer School Committee this year resulting from its decision not to renew McIntire’s contract.

In other business on Tuesday, the council recognized several longtime employees who are preparing to retire — George Skillin Jr. of public works, John Mackie, the parks and cemeteries supervisor, and Dennis Tate of the city’s water district. Together, they have more than 100 years invested in the city.

The city also regained ownership of two former school properties — the former sites of Washington and Capri Street schools — from Brewer Redevelopment LLC, which had been doing the work to remediate the sites.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.

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