Regional School Consolidation Discussed by Liaison Committee

Now offering Crossinology, a rare brain integration technique, to the region to help community members overcome learning disabilities and emotional barriers is Paul Ouellette of Acadia Brain Care. The clinic will be opening in Calais on September 15th. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Kaileigh Deacon

 

A joint committee consisting of members from both the city council and the school committee met on Wednesday, September 6th at the Calais High School with the main focus of starting a discussion between the city and school about school consolidation with Baileyville. 

“It’s not even just about the school, it’s about the city,” said City Councilor Marcia Rogers. “It might be about how we share resources for the fire, for the ambulance [departments]. We’re trying to do this city-wide so we can be frugal with our tax dollars and see where we might be able to have some savings and produce a better product for our clients, which is our kids and community members.” 

Rogers and Superintendent Ron Jenkins were among those who spoke in favor of consolidating resources and potentially even entire schools, with Jenkins advocating for utilizing the Calais building because of its condition and space. Others were against it, such as school committee chairman Bob Greenlaw, who presented the joint group with a written statement of why he felt consolidation would not benefit Calais.

The discussion of school consolidation has been mentioned by the Baileyville town council as well as the Baileyville building committee, but so far there has been no discussion between the two municipalities. The committee agreed that a joint meeting between the Baileyville School Board and town council as well as the Calais City Council and Calais School Committee should be held to discuss what could be done between the two to make both communities succeed. 

Loss of Funding at Blue Devil Health Center

While Superintendent Jenkins had city councilors, the mayor and members of the school committee in attendance, he explained that the state of Maine, in particular the Department of Health and Human Resources, has cut the $46,200 grant money that Calais was supposed to receive to help with their student health center at the Middle/High School. Calais was not the only school health center to suffer the cuts, all twenty-seven school health centers across the state lost similar funding. 

The health center plays a major role for students. “Part of the reason that some of our kids come to school is that their parents couldn’t afford to take them to a doctor if they didn’t,” said CMHS Principal Mary Anne Spearin. “The mental health services that we have are incredible and that impacts our school as well as that child.” 

While the loss will hurt the school, the school department received a surplus in what they received from the state which will help cover any short falls this year. Jenkins said that next year would be a different matter. The health center offers a variety of services to the students at Calais High School including medical care, dental, psychological and more to students who may not have access to these services without this health center. 

 

With the help of the local legislators, the school is looking into various grants for health services that could be used to help fund the program and keep the clinic running for the students that use it.