Vassalboro: Bad idea becomes good idea to school board members

by Mary Grow

The regional service centers that were a bad idea two months ago are now a good idea, Vassalboro School Board members learned at their Nov. 14 meeting.

In September, past and future AOS (Alternative Organizational Structure) #92 Superintendent Eric Haley told board members superintendents had been advised not to rush into the new state-sponsored organizations, then called School Management and Leadership Centers, because state plans were so indefinite.

In November, AOS #92 Finance Director Paula Pooler said the centers appear desirable.

She told Vassalboro board members the regional centers would be potential revenue centers. A school employee is allowed to head a service center, she said.

By April 15, potential service center personnel are supposed to have drafted interlocal agreements, documents similar to the agreement that created AOS #92. The agreements would specify a minimum of two services a center would offer; AOS #92 provides more than two services to the current member towns (Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow), creating the potential for more income as a service center.

If Waterville were to become a service center, Pooler said, the AOS would have to dissolve. In Vassalboro, dissolution would require a town vote, which Pooler said could be scheduled in February or March 2018. Under a service center arrangement, participating school units would have their own school boards and superintendents. The AOS board would become a regional board with representatives from member towns. Pooler said a facilitator has been hired with a state grant to advise and assist.

Vassalboro board Chairman Kevin Levasseur said after hearing the revised service center plan, “Paula and I looked at each other and said, ‘Where’s the downside?’ ”

In other business, board members agreed by consensus that Vassalboro Community School will be in session Friday, Dec. 22. The calendar change could not be formally approved because it was not noticed in advance on the November agenda, but Principal Dianna Gram said she needed to notify parents before the next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday evening, Dec. 19.

Haley, who retired at the end of October with the understanding the AOS board will rehire him after the state-required 30 days of unemployment, attended the Nov. 14 meeting and the executive-session discussion of salaries that followed.

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