News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 21, 2022
Two open principal positions at CSD 13 schools
School board meeting also covered ongoing water issues

by Maggie White

At the July 13 CSD 13 Board meeting, members moved to accept the resignation of high school principal Laura Davis.

The call for approval was issued twice by Chair Jane Osborne as members expressed lamentations (“As I cry!” and “But I do not approve!” were among the comments.). Once the resignation had been accepted, Davis responded to the room, including to comments from new Union 76 Superintendent Dan Ross that he had been looking forward to working with her.

“It’s not an easy decision. I’m doing what’s best for my family right now,” said Davis, who has held the position for one school year.

“She’s truly resigning because of circumstances within her family and she feels she needs to go back to Tennessee,” said Osborne, post-meeting. “She was fabulous and we fully support her decision.”

In other meeting news, Ross’ superintendent’s report included developing plans for addressing mental health/wellness and school safety protocols across the union, as well as an update on the high school and elementary athletic field conditions. The former is a result of specific concerns voiced from school principals.

The latter segued into a larger discussion about ongoing water challenges due to both the current Hancock County drought and PFAS levels in the water. As previously reported, the high school exceeded allowable PFAS particles for potable water. Ross’ recommendation for the athletic fields is to utilize one of the two wells on the high school campus to properly irrigate the fields.

As for drinking water, should both wells test positive for PFAS, then “that would require a more expensive solution,” said Ross, who noted that installation of a filtration system is estimated at $35,000. Should filtration and further purification be required, discussed possibilities included applying for grant money and looking at what other schools are doing in the state.

“By law we need to have [the PFAS issue] remediated by the time the kids come back,” said Ross. They are currently waiting on well testing equipment, slated to arrive later this month.

In other action, the board approved minor changes to the verbiage on the policy for Disciplinary Removal of Students with Disabilities (“No changes, just using language of the law,” said Osborne.) and approved two grants (Extended Learning Opportunity/ELO and a Gulf of Maine research grant).

Candidates for athletic director are being interviewed and hiring recommendations have been made for a number of other open positions, the announcements of which will follow board approval. Additionally, applications are still being accepted for elementary school principal.

With both schools needing a principal, “it’s the perfect storm….We just have to deal as fast and as well as we can. There’s nothing we could have done to prevent either resignation,” said Osborne.

Elementary school principal Tara McKechnie announced her resignation this past spring due to an opportunity for career advancement (she’s now assistant superintendent for Central Lincoln County School System, AOS 93, in Damariscotta).

“We’re looking to replace [Davis] with an equally strong leader at the high school level,” said Ross, who also noted that they had just increased advertising efforts for the elementary school principal position. “I’m optimistic.”

The next meeting is Tuesday, August 2 at 5:30 p.m.