BAR HARBOR — The elementary schools on Mount Desert Island are looking to operate more effectively and perhaps save money by sharing resources and collaborating on various programs and services.
The Southwest Harbor and Tremont school committees were scheduled to hold a joint meeting to explore the possibilities Nov. 18. The Bar Harbor and Mount Desert school committees will meet jointly Nov. 30.
Howard Colter, superintendent of the MDI Regional School System, said he thinks there are a number of areas in which the schools can work together more closely. He cited transportation and food service as two examples.
“The list could go on and on,” he told the Mount Desert School Committee on Monday. “Right now, the way we work is very much driven by the boundaries of town lines.
“Could teachers be working together in ways that we can’t imagine right now because we have a defined, traditional way of looking at staffing and arranging programs?”
Colter suggested that school officials need to take a broad, long-range view of “what seems best for the children and what seems best for the taxpayers.”
“I think we’re all just looking at ways to be more efficient,” said Kristi Losquadro, chairman of the Bar Harbor School Committee. “Right now, it’s hard to share resources across the island.”
The possibility of sharing a single bus service is likely to be a topic of discussion when the Bar Harbor and Mount Desert school committees meet. Mount Desert Elementary has its own buses and hires its own drivers. Bar Harbor contracts with Cyr Bus Line to take students to and from Conners Emerson School. That contract runs through next school year.
Colter said the Bar Harbor School Committee will need to decide if it wants to sign up for another five-year contract or lease or buy its own buses.
“They may very well want to think about sharing or working with other [schools],” he said. “All of our schools are having a hard time hiring drivers. It may be that between a couple of schools, we could have jobs for drivers that are more full time, where they get health benefits.”