The AOS 93 Board will host a meeting Thursday, March 15 to unveil the results of its recent survey regarding Lincoln Academy.
The board made plans for the meeting during its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 13.
For the past several months, AOS 93 Board members and residents of the towns in AOS 93 have expressed concerns about the level of transparency at Lincoln Academy and communications between LA and the towns. In response, the AOS 93 Board held a public forum about Lincoln Academy and conducted a survey to gather feedback on the matter.
The survey, which closed in mid-December, received more than 400 responses, Newcastle board member Stephanie Nelson said Feb. 13. Nelson and fellow board member Christa Thorpe, of Bremen, handled most of the work of putting together the survey for the board.
While the board has the raw data from the survey, the organization of the data is ongoing. Garrett Martin, of Newcastle, is voluntarily compiling the data for the board in a more understandable format, Nelson said.
The board hopes to have a summary of the data available at the public forum in March, with the raw data and comments from the survey available online.
The board also discussed how it wishes to share the results with Lincoln Academy. In past meetings, both AOS 93 Board Chair Joshua Hatch, of Nobleboro, and Central Lincoln County School System interim Superintendent Jim Hodgkin expressed a desire to host the Lincoln Academy Board of Trustees at a public meeting to discuss concerns.
Last fall, Hatch and Hodgkin met with LA Head of School David Sturdevant and LA Board of Trustees President Chrissy Wajer to discuss some of the ways the two parties could work together. Hodgkin said that at the time, although the entire AOS 93 board was initially invited to the meeting, the district’s legal counsel advised against the entire board going because it could run afoul of Maine’s open-meeting law.
The board’s attorney recommended that the board accept the invitation on the basis that some representatives, not the entire board, would attend.
With the survey now closed, Hodgkin said he has reached out to both Sturdevant and Wajer to ask about scheduling a full meeting of both boards to discuss the results. Hodgkin told the AOS 93 Board the response he received was that the administration and trustees are not willing to meet publicly to discuss the results.
In lieu of a public meeting with the trustees, Hatch said he expected there would be a meeting between members of the AOS 93 Board and the trustees to, at the very least, convey the board’s goals and hopes for the future of the relationship between the district and the high school. However, he said he would like to meet with the full board of trustees, not just a small group.
“I want them all to hear what’s going on and not have it filtered down,” Hatch said.
The board does plan to invite all members of the board of trustees to the March 8 meeting to hear the survey results with the public.
Wajer issued a statement in response to a request for comment.
“The Lincoln Academy board is committed to forging a good working relationship with the AOS,” Wajer said in the statement. “We feel very strongly about the fact that our kids are our kids, whether they are in elementary, middle, or high school.
“We are eager to learn the results of the AOS survey, but we have told Mr. Hodgkin that we would prefer to review them with him and members of the AOS board before those results are presented publicly. We feel that we can respond better if we know what’s coming. We trust that we can find a solution that works for everyone.”
With the search for the next AOS 93 superintendent underway, the board also discussed asking a member of Lincoln Academy’s administration to be involved in the interview process.
After the departure of Superintendent Steve Bailey in the spring of 2017, Hodgkin was hired as interim superintendent for the 2017-2018 year. Hodgkin has said he will not pursue the permanent position.
The offer to have a member of the LA administration participate in the interviews of the new superintendent “would be an olive branch” to the school, Hodgkin said.
“It’s about building the relationship, and hopefully there will be more talk between the superintendent and the administration over there moving forward,” Hatch said.
(Editor’s note: An earlier edition of this article lists the meeting as March 8. After the newspaper printed, the date of the meeting was changed due to the availability of the presenter.)