SAD 44 considers security advisor
In the wake of the killings last week at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn, SAD 44 may hire a consultant to advise on possible security improvements in the district, Supt. Dave Murphy told the School Board Monday.
“We want to acknowledge the terrible tragedy that happened in Newtown, Conn., last Friday," he said. "One of the things that we’re doing internally is carefully evaluating that whole process, to see what pieces of it we might be able to take away to better work on our security here.
“I’ve had a conversation today with a consultant about the possibility of having him come in and work with us to see if there are other things we can do from a facilities point of view, and a training point of view, to make sure we’re on top of every possibility that we could look at.
“And I think as was stated – I think all of you watched TV, read the papers and so on – you know schools were never designed to be fortresses, but having said that we also need to understand that there are some steps that we need to take and we need to look at,” he said.
“I think part of the good news that came out of that was that the folks in that building seemed to be pretty well trained, and we’ve had some great opportunities for training as well, but we’re going to be examining this closely to see if we can do some things better.
“But certainly our hearts go out to all the folks who were impacted by that. A horrible tragedy.”
Officers in schools,
voting at CPS
Murphy was asked later if improvements might include the hiring of police or school resource officers for schools – a topic that was discussed several years ago in SAD 44 but not pursued.
He said there have been no specific discussions yet about putting such officers in schools. But he said he wondered if the national conversation on the topic might possibly lead to some sort of government funding for it in the future.
Murphy was also asked about concerns among some local residents regarding the security of holding Bethel’s Election Day votes at the Crescent Park Elementary School while school is in session.
“That’s a legitimate question,” he said. “It may be part of the conversation that we have to have.”
In other business Monday, the School Board authorized the voter-approved $2.5 million air quality and energy conservation project at the Telstar complex by approving the issuance of up to $1.3 million in General Obligation Qualified School Construction Bonds, and the expenditure of the remaining amount from the district’s Capital Reserve Fund.
The 20-year bond was awarded to Norway Savings Bank, Murphy said. Annual payments will be approximately $65,000.
As for the interest rate, he said, “This proposal came in at .35 percent above whatever the fixed daily federal rate is.” He said that for example, the rate that day was 4.28 percent, making the total 4.63 percent. But the rate for the district would be capped at 4.75 percent.
Although SAD 44 would have to pay the total rate initially, “we then submit paperwork to the IRS and get it all back except the .35 percent,”he said.
The improvement work was awarded to Honeywell, which has been doing consulting work for the district throughout the process leading to the November referendum. Preliminary work is expected to begin in January, working around the school schedule. Most work will take place during the summer and be completed by the start of next school year, Murphy said.
Murphy also updated the board on financial circumstances at the state and federal level that could affect the school budget. In anticipation of a $35 million budget curtailment order expected soon from the state, Murphy last Friday ordered a freeze on non-essential purchases in the current school budget.
The district will also follow state efforts to make up shortfalls in the Maine Department of Health and Human Services budget, he said.
And finally, at the federal level the possibility of sequestration (the “fiscal cliff”) at the federal budget level could mean the possible loss of more than 8 percent in federal funding of programs such as Title I and local school entitlement programs, including special education, for next school year.
In personnel issues, the board set stipend rates for the district’s teaching principals based on a step format. Teaching principals with up to four years experience will receive $10,000 a year for the administrative portion of their duties; five to nine years of experience, $13,000; and more than nine years, $14,000.
Directors also approved a 1.75 percent pay increase for the current year for Adult Education Director Jean Waite.
David McKechnie was hired as a permanent math teacher at Telstar Middle School.