The interlocal agreement between Vassalboro and its former partners in AOS (Alternative Organizational Structure) #92, Waterville and Winslow, became effective June 4. It provides for the three municipalities to share central office services previously provided by the AOS office as follows:
- For special education for all three towns, Waterville will employ a part-time director for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade and an assistant director for grades six through 12; Winslow will employ an assistant director for kindergarten through fifth grade.
- Winslow will employ a curriculum director and an instructional specialist who will work for Vassalboro and Waterville as well, and a finance director who will work only for Winslow and Vassalboro.
- Waterville will employ a food service director, a technology director and “personnel to administer business functions including payroll, accounts payable and receivable, insurance, and reporting; and administration of facilities maintenance; administration of student transportation; and will maintain Infinite Campus technology to be shared among the Parties.”
(Infinite Campus, according to its website, is an educational software company that helps schools “streamline educational processes, promote stakeholder collaboration and personalize learning.”)
Each municipality will have a superintendent of schools. For the present, former AOS Superintendent Eric Haley plans to stay in Waterville; former Assistant Superintendent Peter Thiboutot is Winslow superintendent; and Vassalboro is hiring a superintendent for one day a week.
Haley and school board members explained that one day a week does not mean the superintendent will be in Vassalboro for eight or 10 hours one day and not seen again for a week; he or she is more likely to split the time among several days as meetings and other events require.
The superintendent and/or school board of the system hiring the shared personnel listed above will make all hiring and firing decisions. They may consider recommendations from the other superintendents.
Each school’s costs for the shared personnel will be apportioned by the formula used to divide central office costs before voters dissolved the AOS in a March referendum: half on the basis of municipal valuation, half on the basis of student population.
The agreement will run until June 30, 2021. It can be amended or terminated earlier by written agreement of all three school boards.
Some Vassalboro Budget Committee members and selectmen criticized the interlocal agreement on two counts: they suggested the school board should have explored more options and perhaps found comparable services at a lower price, and they think a three-year commitment is too long.
Haley replied to both criticisms. With state education officials’ idea of regional service centers instead of AOSs and RSUs (Regional School Units) so new, there are not yet a lot of options organized, he said. And a three-year agreement has two benefits: the additional staff he hires will have at least a three-year commitment, and Vassalboro board members will have time to adapt to the new system, see how it works and, if dissatisfied, look for an alternative.
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