Central school hiring proposal is premature

BAR HARBOR — There could be advantages to having all teachers and staff in the Mount Desert Island Regional School System (MDIRSS) employed by the system rather than by the individual schools, but now is not the time to pursue that change, a panel of school board members has concluded.

In its preliminary report last October, the seven-member study group said it would be in the best interest of students and the communities “to increase the central authority of the [school system] and to decrease redundancy.”

In particular, the panel said, it seems likely that educational services could be improved and waste reduced by centralizing hiring, staffing, insurance and transportation and continuing “to move toward a centralized curriculum [and] centralized special education.”

But in its final report, presented to the full school system board Feb. 23, the group said that work toward centralization should be put on hold “given the time-intensive nature of our pending search for our next superintendent and the importance of that task.”

Superintendent Howard Colter plans to retire at the end of next school year.

“While centralized hiring will likely solve/improve problems associated with teacher contracts and health insurance costs, it will take money to centralize and substantial work to accomplish,” the committee said in its report. “There likely would be an increased cost at the [school system] level to employ a full-time human resources person.”

The panel also anticipated that centralization would not be universally embraced.

“There is substantial concern that our local communities will have difficulty giving up control of hiring.”

The study group said that if the new superintendent and school board decide that greater centralization might be worth pursuing, the next step probably should be an independent study to clarify the potential advantages.

“Then, if further work is indicated, substantial time would be spent educating all school board members and key stakeholders in the communities concerning the benefit,” the group said. “This process would be very political and time intensive.”

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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