TRENTON — Judy Sproule, who served as chair of the Trenton School Committee during the process that led to the formation of the Mount Desert Island Regional School System (MDIRSS) in 2009, thinks it would be a big mistake for Trenton to withdraw from the school district.
On Monday, May 17, voters will be asked if they want the Board of Selectmen and School Committee to form a committee to draft a withdrawal plan to be submitted to the Maine Department of Education (DEP). If voters say yes and the DEP approves the withdrawal plan, then it would go to Trenton voters for approval at a future town meeting.
Legally, only the School Committee, which strongly opposes withdrawal, can initiate the withdrawal process. But the vote on Monday could give an indication of where a majority of citizens stand on the issue.
A committee formed by the selectmen in 2019 has recommended withdrawal, saying Trenton Elementary School could operate with greater autonomy and at less cost to taxpayers if it were not part of the MDIRSS. Sproule disagrees.
“MDIRSS provided immediate cost savings for Trenton including a lower cost for
the superintendent’s office and has enabled the Trenton School Committee to manage its budget more efficiently,” Sproule said in an email to the Islander.
She said the elementary school budget has increased at a much slower rate since Trenton joined the MDIRSS.
“The MDIRSS provides a significantly higher quality educational experience for
Trenton’s students than Trenton can achieve on its own or with limited partners,” Sproule said.
“Major benefits Trenton sought out in joining MDIRSS include a continually updated and comprehensive coordinated curriculum, professional development for
teachers and staff, and access to specialists trained to address social and special needs. Losing these would be a detriment to our students.”
Sproule said that when the MDIRSS was formed 12 years ago, the Maine commissioner of education called it the “gold standard.”
“It has proved that in many ways,” she said.