Board rejects paid leave for special services director



BAR HARBOR — The Mount Desert Island Regional School System board rejected a modified request by special services director Kelley Sanborn Monday for professional leave and a continuing education subsidy.

Earlier this month, the board rejected a request from Sanborn for a yearlong sabbatical with pay and $3,000 for professional advancement courses and travel. Additionally, that proposal would have required the hiring of a temporary replacement for a year.

On Monday, Sanborn floated three options – the original request and two scaled-back versions.

The estimated additional cost of her first proposal was set at $58,000 above current budget. The first new option, “professional leave,” would have had her paid at half the top teacher rate of pay (half of $62,353), plus 50 percent benefits, along with providing money for courses and travel. That proposal would have cost an additional $44,176.

Sanborn’s salary and benefits now come to approximately $110,000 annually.

A third option, referred to as “job share,” would have been for her to take a reduced position at half pay and benefits within the special services department. Special Ed administrator Melissa Beckwith would have been promoted, becoming, in effect, her boss’s temporary boss. Another half-time person would have been hired to provide full staffing. The additional cost of that plan was listed at $3,000 for courses and travel.

Under all options, Sanborn promised to remain in the district for two years after the sabbatical and help share what she learned with others in the district.

Under current union contracts, teachers can apply to take a sabbatical after seven years. There is no precedent or policy for administrators.

“The proposals before you tonight are a great deal more detailed than the last,” she told the board on Monday. “I understand a big area of concern is budget,” she said.

One reason the request was put on the agenda for the AOS 91 Annual Meeting Monday is that any related changes in budget would need to have been made that evening.

Board member Judy Sprowl of Trenton said her first priority was to the students. She questioned how difficult it would be to find temporary replacements. She continued that she worried that if finding someone for a year at full time would be difficult, it would be even harder to find someone half time.

“It would be a challenge,” said Superintendent Howard Colter. “Half time makes it that much more difficult.

When asked by committee member Charlie Wray of Mount Desert for his preference, Colter said he could not recommend adoption of any of the options.

“I appreciate the thought, detail and substance that went into Kelley’s proposal,” he said. He continued that the first two had major budget ramifications. “It would be too difficult to attract people for the part-time, temporary position,” he added.

Board member Kristi Losquadro of Bar Harbor asked Sanborn if she would accept a year off without pay. She answered “no,” that her family relied on the salary and health insurance.

After a brief discussion and the clearance of some procedural hurdles, board member Nicole Cardano of Tremont moved to approve the third option of job changes and travel expenses. It was seconded by Tammy Tripler of Swans Island.

Board member Laura Hendricks of Mount Desert said she was reluctant to go against the recommendation of the superintendent but thought it was important to give careful consideration “when a member of our team is waving a red flag.”

The vote was six in favor of the job-share option and 11 opposed. Those voting “yes” included Cardano, Tripler, Losquadro, Melisa Rowland and Robin Sue Tapley of Bar Harbor and Caroline Pryor of Mount Desert.

Voting no were Ron Wrobel III of Bar Harbor, Wray and John Brown of Mount Desert, Eric Henry, Jim Sawyer and Ingrid Kackmar of Southwest Harbor, Mike McKee and Heidi Lawson of Tremont and Jennifer Bonilla, Peter Finger and Gary Burr of Trenton.

Although all members of local school committees are members of the AOS 91 board and can participate in discussions, not all vote. Voting rights are apportioned by town. Bar Harbor gets four votes, while Southwest Harbor, Tremont, Trenton and Mount Desert get three each.

Earl Brechlin

Earl Brechlin

Editor at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander editor Earl Brechlin first discovered Mount Desert Island 35 years ago and never left. The author of seven guide and casual history books, he is a Registered Maine Guide and has served as president of the Maine and New England Press Associations. He and his wife live in Bar Harbor.
Earl Brechlin

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