March 18, 2018
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Rockland-area school district considers adding police officers

Heather Steeves | BDN
Heather Steeves | BDN
File photo of students from Oceanside High School in Rockland loading on to buses after the first day of school.
By Lauren Abbate, BDN Staff

The Regional School Unit 13 board of directors will vote Thursday on whether to add school resource officers at a high school and elementary school in Rockland.

If board members approve the plan, the district would establish a partnership with the Rockland Police Department to have an officer serve both Oceanside High School and the South School, an elementary school, according to the school board’s agenda.

RSU 13 Superintendent John McDonald told the Courier-Gazette that he would also confer with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office about providing officers for Oceanside Middle School in Thomaston and the district’s other schools not located in Rockland.

McDonald told the Courier-Gazette that the district has been talking with Rockland police about establishing a school resource officer for two years. McDonald said the recent shooting a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida was not the reason he is recommending a school resource officer, though it did bring the matter to the forefront.

Numerous larger communities in Maine have school resource officers, including Portland, South Portland, Brunswick, Bangor, Lewiston, Auburn, Scarborough and Biddeford, according to Chief Robert Schwartz, executive director of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. While these schools belong to larger districts, Schwartz said there are likely some school resource officers in more rural areas.

The school board will also vote on whether to ratify contracts for teachers and support staff, which have been in limbo for almost three years.

The Seacoast Education Association — the union which represents employees in Rockland, Thomaston, South Thomaston, Cushing and Owls Head — has reached a tentative agreement with the school board, according to SEA president Wendy Jacques.

The terms of the agreements cannot be released until all parties vote to ratify the agreement, Jacques said.

The terms of RSU 13 teaching staff’s three-year contract expired in August 2016, meaning that district teachers are in their second academic year without a new contract. The contracts for the district’s educational support staff expired in June 2015, making this their third year without a renewed contract.

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