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Education Planning Committee

Minutes of July 29, 2013 (Draft, subject to correction)

Present: Perry Fowler, Nate Mason, Bob Pulver, Jon VanAmringe, Robin Veysey, Administrative Assistant Stu Marckoon, Gordon Donaldson, Bret Jones.

Mr. Fowler called the meeting to order at 5:12 PM.

Consideration of minutes of July 17, 2013 meeting: Mr. Pulver moved to accept the minutes as written; Mr. Mason seconded the motion. Vote was 5-0 to accept.

Mr. Marckoon presented material he had been requested to obtain: Withdrawal Agreement; Budgets from five area schools with the student population of 3 of the 5 which he can copy for us if desired; spreadsheet of Lamoine School's historical costs for eleven years. He indicated he had factored tuition in because prior to the formation of the RSU Lamoine had paid tuition for our students to attend high schools. A discussion about percentage of budget allocated to school, which has been about 74% of total budget.

Mr. Fowler asked what the current Lamoine student population is. Mr. Donaldson indicated there were 99 in K-8 and approximately 60 in high school. There was a discussion of school population.

Mr. Marckoon said he would leave the detailed information available to the committee to review if desired.

Mr. Fowler moved on to discussion with Mr. Donaldson and Mr. Jones who were members of the Withdrawal Committee. Mr. Donaldson presented packet of historical budgetary information, projected future costs based on historical costs and overall state tendencies and discussed the Withdrawal Agreement.

Mr. Fowler said we needed to come up with projections for Lamoine School as a stand alone. We could count on being able to work with other groups to purchase goods and services but do not know at this time with whom. He then asked if the motivation for withdrawal was primarily financially based.

Mr. Donaldson and Mr. Jones agreed that it was not. Mr. Jones said from his perspective that it was primarily self-determination and local control. Mr. Donaldson pointed out that there is a tremendous range of expenditures among the various schools notwithstanding variations in school population.

Mr. Fowler noted that the various scenarios and variables are difficult to sort out. Mr. Mason asked if any other schools in our region had started to move in this direction. Mr. Donaldson said that there are over 40 schools pursuing withdrawal. RSU 24 is one of the largest districts in the state. Mr. Donaldson then explained the information contained in the paperwork he provided. Mr. Jones pointed out that there is a standard form required by the State of Maine for budgets, even though individual items are not necessarily categorized uniformly within that format.

Followed conversation of special ed total expenditures and amount attributable to Lamoine. RSU will/can not tell us amount for our students, only the total.

Mr. Jones indicated change in RPC agreement, allocation of payments, will change in 2015.

Followed discussion of Otis budget, student population and how they are interacting with the RSU.

Mr. Pulver asked what the driving force was in Ellsworth for leaving the RSU. The answer was money plus dissatisfaction with way administration is handled.

Mr. Jones indicated that In future RPC agreement for cost sharing will change to being based on population which will be to Ellsworth's detriment which is another motivation for Ellsworth to withdraw.

Mr. Fowler asked if there was a certain amount of money we would have to pay to withdraw from the RSU.

Mr. Jones said yes, there is a schedule in the agreement of payments and receipts regarding capital expenditures, etc., and Lamoine would receive some and pay out some. In the end Lamoine would have costs to withdraw. Much of the language in the withdrawal agreement was required by attorneys to make it exceedingly clear to bond holders that debts would be paid. None of work being done is for Lamoine so Lamoine would not be responsible for any of those obligations. Mr. VanAmringe asked if we would be responsible if RSU 24 defaulted in future on any of the bonds and Mr. Jones responded that Lamoine would not be responsible for any of those bonds.

Mr. Pulver asked about time frame and requirements for forming a school board and setting up superintendent to operate. Mr. Jones responded that Lamoine would be part of the RSU until start of school year 2015 so would have approximately 6 months to get everything in place.

Mr. Fowler asked if anyone had any further requests for information from Mr. Marckoon. Mrs. Veysey said she would email Mr. Marckoon about providing the RPC agreement for us to review. It was agreed that we had a lot of information to digest before our next meeting.

Discussion followed about percentage of budget devoted to school over time, funding formulas, state aid and the steep decline in Lamoine's state aid over last several years.

Set next meeting for Sunday Aug, 11 at 4PM.

Discussion of scenarios to consider:

Mr. Jones said the Withdrawal Agreement requires any leaving school to pay percentage of superintendent's office expenses for one year. Without Ellsworth paying 36%, central office would be changing dramatically and costs would be divided among remaining schools.

Mr. Mason said focus should be on Lamoine as a stand alone with part-time or shared superintendent, and other possible shared services IT, food service.

Mr. Mason listed order from selectmen. Also have some models from other schools that we can review.

Mr. VanAmringe said the big unknown is whether Ellsworth leaves or stays in the RSU; whether Hancock leaves or stays in the RSU. When the formula for cost sharing in RSU changes to per capita will no longer benefit Lamoine.

Mr. Fowler asked for motion to adjourn. Mrs. Veysey moved to adjourn, Mr. Pulver second. Vote 5-0 in favor.

Robin Veysey

Secretary for Education Planning Committee