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News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 20, 2022 and The Weekly Packet, January 20, 2022
GSA financial advisory committee to discuss proposed budget oversight committee

by Jeffrey B. Roth

In November 2021, sending town members of the George Stevens Academy Financial Planning Advisory Committee agreed to submit a proposal for the formation of a budget review committee to their respective select boards and school boards for comment.

Developed by Jim Goodman, a member of the Penobscot School Board, the two-page document proposes formation of a budget review committee composed of one representative from each of the eight towns—Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Castine, Orland, Penobscot, Sedgwick and Surry—that pay tuition for students who choose to attend the private, nonprofit secondary academy. Each representative would serve a three-year term, according to the draft proposal.

This proposal will be the primary focus of the Monday, February 28, advisory committee meeting, according to GSA Board of Trustees Chair Sally Mills. If the towns agree to move forward with the proposal, the next steps may include the creation of a mission statement and scope of work for the committee, as well as developing an action plan to get the committee up and running, according to the document.

As of mid-January, several town school boards had discussed the proposal. In addition, according to Tim Seeley, GSA Head of School, members of GSA’s board have been attending school board meetings to discuss its request to increase student tuition rates from $1,000 to $1,700 for the next school budget.

At the January 5 Sedgwick School Board meeting, GSA representatives presented the proposal to board members, according to an email from board chair Kelly Samperi. She said the board didn’t have enough information to form an opinion about the budget oversight committee proposal.

“Chiefly, we do not know if the recommendations of this committee will be honored or just considered,” Samperi said. “At our school board meeting…when asked to elaborate on this, GSA let us know that it would be discussed at the next financial advisory committee, so until we have an answer to that, we will refrain from presenting an opinion.”

Ben Wootten, a member of the Blue Hill School Board, stated in an email that the board “is in favor of steps that open up GSA to community input and community priorities. The [board] feels that Jim Goodman’s proposal is a step in the right direction.”

Each school board chair was contacted by email and asked to share whether their board favored or opposed the budget oversight committee proposal. However, at press time, The Packet had not received replies from the remaining school boards.

The February 28 meeting will held via Zoom and be open to the public. For more information, contact GSA.