Superintendent's Update for Friday, April 14, 2017

posted Apr 14, 2017, 7:00 AM by JoAnna Haskell

SCHOOL UNION 76

BROOKLIN – DEER ISLE-STONINGTON CSD – SEDGWICK

251 N. DEER ISLE ROAD, UNIT 1, DEER ISLE, ME  04627

Office of the Superintendent

Telephone (207) 348-9100                 Fax (207) 348-9103

“It takes a whole community to educate a child.”

                                                    Superintendent’s Memo

To: Parents & Guardians

From: Christian M. Elkington

Re: CSD 13 Superintendent’s Budget Update #2

Date: Friday, April 14, 2017


On behalf of our school board I want to thank everyone who attended last night's school board and budget meeting. About 80 parents, guardians, staff and community members as well as at least 30 former and current students attended the meeting. Personally, I was quite impressed with the civil and respectful manner in which all speakers shared their feedback and thoughts. Many important perspectives and points were shared that will certainly add to the information the board and I will use in our efforts to further develop a responsible 17-18 School Budget.


Budget concerns and thoughts shared at last night's meeting:


- More people need to be heard from

- Transparency needs to be increased

- A reduction in staff flexibility at DISHS (course) may hurt future student opportunities

- Building maintenance has not been a priority for too long

- Admin costs are going up when you compare 14-15 to 17-18, while we cut teaching staff

- Staff who have been here for several years add more than just what they do as teachers

- Need to know where we are going as a district without delay

- A Strategic Planning Process, to collect input from all stakeholders, needs to be started

- Adjustments that needed to be made to the present budget draft were shared.


Initial thoughts and informational updates on the above:


- More people need to be heard from (The board and I are looking to move the budget vote back a week to 10 days, later in June, so as to increase more time for budget review and involvement by community members. A new timeline will be shared shortly.)

- Transparency needs to be increased (Same as above along with weekly updates from my office about budget and planning will continue.)

- A reduction in staff flexibility at DISHS (courses) may hurt future student opportunities (Some board members wonder if the present draft is too tight and have asked that we relook at creating more teaching flexibility.)

- Building Maintenance has not been a priority for too long (Corrected numbers from the Maine Bond Bank show that we will no longer have to pay interest on the DISES Loan, which will mean a savings of $86,000.00. The board is also waiting to hear from the Maintenance Committee on future repair and upgrade needs.

- Admin costs are going up when you compare 14-15 to 17-18, while we cut teaching staff (The present budget does have an overall reduction in admin personnel costs as compared to 16-17. Many people listed under admin have dual responsibilities with only part of their job being administrative. I will be continuing to look at ways to reduce admin personnel costs in the present budget draft.)

- Staff who have been here for several years add more than just what they do as teachers. (The board and I agree that staff often bring a lot more to our schools beyond teaching. Quality people support our kids in many ways and when positions are reduced/cut it is not done lightly.)

- Need to know where we are going as a district

- A Strategic Planning Process, to collect input from all stakeholders, needs to be started

A couple of months ago I shared with our staff that we find ourselves at a difficult crossroads. That Union 76 and CSD 13 specifically have suffered for at least the last 5 years from lack of a long-range plan and guided superintendent support. The lack of a Strategic Plan along with a lack of focused support, guidance and oversight from the superintendent's office is one of those things that has hurt our district. It appeared to me that on too many occasions direction, support and accountability were not given or expected of or from our schools, staff and admin.


The board has previously agreed that we need to determine who we are, or are to become! After a majority of the CSD 13 budget work is done we will:


- Start a dialogue in June, among all, involving all stakeholders

- Develop a process for people to share their thoughts and ideas honestly and safely

- Support a Strategic Planning process to begin late summer and early next fall

- Our goal is to create a Strategic Plan, by Jan/Feb 2018 that can be supported by all stakeholders and used to guide the budget development process for 18-19.


The board further understands that present and future building needs, must be assessed now, as we need to be able to plan and answer the following for our strategic plan: Do we bring both school buildings into top shape? Do we leave the grade distribution as is or consider moving the 7th and 8th grades to the DISHS? Do we have a grades K-12 school and move all grades into a renovated elementary school building?


- Adjustments that needed to be made to the present budget draft were shared (Several adjustments that needed to be made to the present budget draft will be made available in the updated budget draft shared on the Union 76 Web Site by this coming Wednesday.)


In my conversations with staff I also shared that it is time for us to be thinking about our two buildings as one school and to consider ourselves a K-12 school with an Upper and Lower School or a 7-12 and a K-6 Academies. Additionally, I shared with the High School Staff that they would now need to oversee instruction/learning in grades 7-12. More info on these ideas will be provided in a subsequent letter.


I see two possible choices/solutions for us as a Learning Organization as we move forward in CSD 13:


a.) Do nothing and wither away through negativity, lack of "us" approach, a thousand cuts ($)

b.) Become a K-12 School and reimagine what we are to be and reinvigorate our communities' support around their school!


We can become the K-12 School we need to be, but it will take bold moves and some trust in the above.


Our next meeting where public opinion will be sought on the second draft of the budget will be on:

April 25 at 5:30 in the high school gym. The budget document will be available on the Superintendent's Office website (http://sites.google.com/site/union76superintendentsoffice) on Wed April 19th. Hard copies may be picked up at the Superintendent's Office.

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