Originally published in The Weekly Packet, April 23, 2021
Blue Hill voters approve GSA tuition request
by Jeffrey B. Roth
George Stevens Academy received good news when results of the April 20 Blue Hill annual town meeting by referendum became available.
Voters approved GSA’s request for a $1,000 per student tuition increase 277-200. That increase represents more than $100,000 in tuition payments from area sending towns. To date, Blue Hill, Brooksville and Penobscot voters have approved the request. Surry voters will weigh in April 23, while Sedgwick’s town meeting is the first week in June.
For the past several months, GSA head of school Tim Seeley and Sally Mills, chair of GSA’s board of trustees, along with other trustees, have been campaigning to build support for the tuition increase proposal. The semi-private academy, which serves as a high school for the peninsula, is facing a financial crisis, in part due to the pandemic and as a result of steeply declining enrollment in its international boarding school program.
Blue Hill select board and budget committee members formally advised voters to reject GSA’s tuition increase request. That opposition, which is shared by elected officials in other sending towns, is based on the perception that there is a lack of transparency in the decision-making process by GSA’s administration and its board.
The Packet contacted Mills and Seeley for their reactions to the vote.
Mills said, “This vote is an important milestone in Blue Hill’s history. It affirms the fact that our community stands behind GSA—its students, its faculty, and its administrative team. It supports the fine work that goes into educating our high school students. We, the board, look forward to continuing our work with town officials and members of the public to collaborate and communicate more effectively. Thank you, Blue Hill voters.”
Seeley said, “I am gratified that the voters of Blue Hill have seen the value of supporting GSA, so that the families of Blue Hill can continue to have a first rate, full service high school here on the peninsula. I appreciate their vote of confidence, and trust in what we do. I hope the towns who have yet to vote will also feel confident in our ability to deliver a high quality education when we have the funding we need, and will also approve our request.”