News Feature

Penobscot
Originally published in Castine Patriot, April 12, 2018 and The Weekly Packet, April 12, 2018
Student security highlights meeting

The new Union 93 chairman

The spring Union 93 meeting was held on April 10 at Penobscot Community School. Jerry Markley oversees the meeting as the newly elected chairman of the board.

Photo by Monique Labbe Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Monique Labbe

Union 93 Superintendent Mark Hurvitt informed school board members from the five union schools of the possibility of hiring a school resource officer during a meeting on April 10.

Hurvitt has been in discussion with Union 76 Superintendent Chris Elkington and Hancock County Sheriff Scott Kane about having an officer oversee safety at all schools throughout both unions. That task would mean covering a distance from Castine to Deer Isle and nine schools across the Blue Hill Peninsula and Island communities.

“[The distance] isn’t ideal,” said Hurvitt. “This person would be stretching themselves very thin, but I do think it is something worth looking into.”

Hurvitt noted that there are changes coming to Title 4 funds, which are used for health and safety needs for schools. That money could be increasing, he said, which could be used to help fund the Union 93 portion of the cost for the new position.

“This would cost us around $150,000,” said Hurvitt. “We would pay a portion of that, as would Union 76.”

Hurvitt added that there is also a bill before the Maine Legislature that could potentially give additional funds to school needs such as a safety officer.

Blue Hill school board member Jan Snow asked whether, instead of hiring someone to cover nine schools, the money might be better used to train teachers in how to notice signs and triggers in students who could potentially bring harm to the school community. Hurvitt said a safety officer would be in charge of training and making sure the schools know what the procedures would be in case of a shooting, bomb threat, or other potentially dangerous scenario.

“I feel like I’m a little over my skis, at this point,” said Hurvitt. “I’m happy to continue looking into this because I feel it’s something we need to do, but I’d like a little support on it moving forward.”

Penobscot school board member Jim Goodman moved that Hurvitt be allowed to pursue information, and come back to the board for a possible decision. The motion carried by a vote of 4,457-2,645 (when individual member votes were tallied).

In other board business, members of the respective school boards voted to have Penobscot board member Jerry Markley serve as chairman to the Union 93 board for the rest of the school year. The matter is usually decided at the first meeting of the school year, but the board had been unable to come to a decision at meetings in August and December.

The board also heard presentations from the People’s Forum of Penobscot about school sustainability and from Lynn Cheney from Maine AllCare about health insurance and Medicare for all.