Here is a great perspective by Jenn McGee, Principal of the Atwood Primary School about RSU18’s recent budget vote that failed. She is spot on. Please take the time to read and to participate in this next round of budget review, discussion, and adoption.

Atwood Principal's Blog

From the Principal’s Pen

June 2015

Submitted by: Jennifer McGee, Principal of Atwood Primary School

I really don’t like talking about money. It seems impolite. I am just as frustrated with the rising taxes as the next person, and when I make out my quarterly check…it takes my breath away. Then I remember my grandfather’s words. He was a Methodist minister. He made next to nothing for a salary, but he always said: “I am always proud when I pay my taxes, because I know I am helping to educate America. It’s the best money I spend”. He lived in a tiny cottage in the woods of East Poland, Maine on a small pension, but he got pretty puffed up and proud when he paid his taxes.

So, that being said, first and foremost, thank you!   The Oakland and China residents did, in fact, pass the school budget in their…

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Important Regional School Unit 18 Budget Vote

Your Vote Matters

Your Vote Matters!

Tomorrow, residents of Belgrade, China, Oakland, Sidney & Rome will be going to the polls to vote on the Regional School Unit 18 2015-16 School Budget that was adopted at the District Budget Meeting on May 7th.  Many good things are happening in your schools and this is happening while being one of the most fiscally responsible school districts in Maine!

A few factors for you to consider prior to voting:

  • RSU 18’s average annual budget increase has been less that 1/2 of one percent per year since being formed 7 years ago!  
  • RSU 18’s per pupil cost is $10,245 while the State Average is $12,056 – that’s $1811 below the state average (Source: Maine’s Department of Education Data Warehouse – School Year 2013-14)
  • Messalonslee High School’s 5 Year Graduation Rate is 90.06% with a 2.35% dropout rate.  This achievement way outpaces the 5 Year State Graduation Rate of 84.48% (3.18% dropout rate) and the National Graduation Rate of 78.67%.  This is the highest public school graduation rate in Central Maine and among the highest graduation rate for one of Maine’s largest high schools (over 800 students)!

Residents of RSU 18 are getting a quality education system while this education is being provided at one of the lowest per pupil cost in Our State!  Please support RSU 18’s budget by voting tomorrow, May 19th.   

Please Support Your Students, Your Schools and This Budget by Voting “YES” on the 2015-15 School Budget!



Messalonskee Middle School Principal's Blog

It is time to cast your vote for the RSU 18 school district budget.  This budget is necessary to keep the current programing in place for our students.  There have been many meeting and events leading up to this validation vote for the district budget.  I hope that you will make your way to the polls to support our schools and students.  If you would like some more information about our budget, click here. This link will give you some information about how RSU 18 has worked hard to keep our increases low.  Thank you for taking the time to go to the polls and cast your vote tomorrow.

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Below is a story by Peter McGuire of the Morning Sentinel about RSU18’s School Budget got the 2015-16 School Year that was approved at our District Budget Meeting on May 7th.  There remains a final and very important step in our budget approval process and that is the Budget Validation Referendum.  This Referendum Vote will be held next Tuesday May 19th and this is when citizens of  Belgrade, China, Oakland, Rome & Sidney get a final chance to approve the budget that was adopted on May 7th.

RSU 18 has many very good things happening in our schools and this is being done while being very fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of RSU 18.  Over the past 7 budgets the average annual increase in the budget has been less that 1/2 of one percent!  There are not many schools or municipalities that have that kind of track record.  For the latest year that data is available (2013-14) from Maine’s Department of Education RSU 18’s per pupil cost is $10,245 while the State Average is $12,056 ($1811 below the state average)!

Residents of RSU 18 are getting a quality education system and it is being provided to them in a very cost efficient manner!  Please support RSU 18’s budget by voting next Tuesday.  The Polling locations and times are as follows:

  Belgrade Residents         Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons               12:00 – 8:00 PM

  China Residents               China Town Office                                                                   7:30 AM – 8:00 PM

  Oakland Residents         Williams Elementary School                                                8:00 AM – 8:00 PM

  Rome Residents              Rome Community Center                                                      12:00 – 8:00 PM

  Sidney Residents             Sidney Town Office                                                                  8:00 AM – 8:00 PM

RSU 18 Voters approve school budget  – “Morning Sentinel – Saturday May 9th”

Budget meeting OK’s $34.7M plan; final referendum set for May 19


OAKLAND — Voters from Regional School Unit 18 approved a $34.7 million school budget Thursday at the annual budget meeting, but the proposal still awaits adoption in a districtwide referendum on May 19.  The package was passed intact, and would budget money to pay charter school tuition for students living in the district, even though the state appears to be willing to pick up that cost starting next school year.  Roughly 100 voters from Oakland, Belgrade, Sidney, Rome and China, which make up the school district, assembled at the Performance Center at Messalonskee High School to vote on the budget.  The budget increase is about 2.7 percent, or $934,000, more than the spending plan passed last year. About half of the amount, about $17 million, will be paid through local property taxes. To the surprise of some, voters rejected a motion by school board member Kerri Oliver, from Sidney, to take out $115,000 budgeted to pay for district students that were attending charter schools.  Earlier this week, a bill that would switch responsibility for paying charter school bills from local school districts to the Maine Department of Education was passed by the Senate, and Gov. Paul LePage is expected to sign it into law.  With the state footing the bill, local districts no longer would be required to budget for estimated charter school tuition.  Instead, voters decided to keep the money in the budget.  “I was surprised,” Oliver said Friday. “With budgets, people are always looking to go down.”  There was no discussion from the floor before the vote to remove the funding, Oliver said; but board member Andrew Cook, from Rome, spoke against the motion, noting that if the money stays in the budget, it will be available if needed in emergencies.  “I suggested that we not pass the amendment so we could have that money for our reserve,” Cook said Friday.  The school district maintains an undesignated fund balance of about $286,000, far less than it should, according to Cook.  “They need some reserve, some elasticity for the emergence of unexpected events,” Cook said.  He also wanted to make sure that the district wasn’t caught unaware if the state takeover of charter school payments doesn’t pass as expected, leaving the district open to accusations it hadn’t budgeted for them.  The move to change the budget was “soundly defeated,” he added.  Aside from the first warrant article, the meeting was uneventful, with most voters approving the budget amounts recommended by the board, according to Vice Chairman Elwood Ellis, from China.  Although he was “still a little surprised” that Oliver’s amendment was defeated, the district could benefit from having the money available in case of unexpected increases in tuition or special education costs, Ellis said.  Superintendent Gary Smith has called the proposed budget the tightest budget the school board has presented, but it has drawn criticism from some in the district, specifically from members of the Belgrade Board of Selectpersons, who told Smith they wouldn’t support the budget.  Although budget meeting approval means the package has passed its first hurdle, Smith said it still faces challenges in the next two weeks at the ballot box in member communities.  “There are still a lot of people out there who feel a 2.7 percent budget increase is too high,” Smith said, adding that he could understand residents’ anxiety about increased taxes.  Three years ago, voters rejected the RSU 18 budget twice before a spending plan finally was approved in October.  For Ellis, the passage of the budget at Thursday’s meeting was a good sign, but final passage wasn’t totally certain.  “I’m optimistic, but I’ll be happy when it passes,” Ellis said.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239 Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

A Great Community Event This Weekend!

This is a Great Write-up about RSU18’s Proposed Budget for the Next School Year. The District Budget Meeting being Held Tomorrow Evening at Messalonskee High School at 6PM. Please Come and Participate in This Year’s Budget Approval Process! Help Support the Many Great Things Happening in RSU18!

Messalonskee High School

Earlier this year I wrote about our school budget and thought it made sense to revisit that blog post prior to the district budget hearing this Thursday (5/7/15, 6:00 MHS PAC).  As both a resident taxpayer and employee of RSU18 I feel it is important to share as much information as possible for you to make an informed decision on our budget and I encourage you to reach out to me should you have any questions.

As High School Principal I am perhaps as close to the creation and development of the budget as any building administrator, member of the RSU18 educational staff, or most other employees or residents of RSU18.  It’s a hard process each year, but it is one that I am proud of and one that I believe reflects well on our district.  From Bus Drivers to teachers, to administrators and support staff, it is my belief that we do…

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Some of the great things happening at “Our” Messalonskee High School! Click the link to hear the latest of many good things!

Eagle Pride: Messalonskee’s Academics Shine.

Some of the Good Things Happening in our Schools! Stay dry today with all the rain!

China Middle School

One of my favorite responsibilities of my job is going into classrooms to watch teachers practicing their craft, and to watch students in the learning process.   In a recent visit to a classroom, I was impressed by the demonstration of how teachers are using higher levels of taxonomy to challenge students and motivate them to push themselves.

The lesson I was observing was a social studies lesson on economic structures.    Specifically, the learning target was: “Understands how economic systems work and the role they play in society.”    This learning target is to be taught to the taxonomy level of comprehension.    The teacher provided the students with a few different ways to demonstrate meeting this standard.  These assessments were given to the students ahead of time so they would know what was expected as they studied the topic.   Some examples of how students could meet this standard were:

  1. Create a…

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