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Board Votes To Staff School For Coming Year

July 11, 2011
STARK– Following a 50-minute nonpublic session with new school administrative unit 58 superintendent Carl Ladd and an hour and a quarter public session, the two school board members in attendance at the June 28 board meeting approved a motion directing Ladd to seek two teachers to staff the village school for the coming year. The motion also directed Ladd to look for items in the budget that could possibly be cut in order to increase the amounts offered as salary for the two teaching positions.

In addition, the board also directed Ladd to draft a letter to the Northumberland school board seeking clarification of their willingness to accept Stark's 24 kindergarten through sixth grade students for the coming school year should he not be successful in filling the teaching positions at the Stark school.

After coming out of nonpublic session, Ladd addressed the 45 residents in attendance, explaining the two options facing the board: either tuition all of the Stark students in grades K-6 to Groveton for a flat fee, or reconfigure the set-up at Stark, attempting to meet state standards with two multi-grade teachers. One teacher would handle grades K-3, expected to total 14 students, and the second would cover grades 4-6, expected to total 10 students. One would hold the position of teaching principal and have to be administrative certified and have a technical background, while the second would also have to be administrative certified and have a technical background, and at least one of the two would have to be certified in special education.

Due to a significant cut in the budget at the school district meeting in March, the school has only about $75,000 to offer the prospective teachers in salary. Despite the need to hire two strong, independent people, Ladd indicated they are not likely to attract top shelf candidates for two reasons – the late date in attempting to hire and the low salary amount.

No one at the meeting spoke in favor of the tuition-out option, and there were numerous suggestions as to where additional funds might possibly be found in order to increase the salary offering. Ladd and the board agreed that they would explore many of those suggestions.

The board took mild criticism from some in the audience who suggested the board wasted three months when it petitioned superior court, seeking a new school meeting following the budget reduction in March. The court ruled the request did not meet all the criteria required for a new meeting and denied the request. Those in the audience who addressed the issue felt the board would have been better off spending the time pursuing options to keep the school open.

Board member Carrie Wentworth made the motion to seek to fill the teaching positions and was supported by board chairman Tom Bushey. Board member Michelle Randall was not present at the meeting.

The board will hold its next regular meeting on July 19, but will meet sooner if Ladd is able to present them with qualified candidates before then.

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Martin Lord Osman
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