Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 27, 2021 and The Weekly Packet, May 27, 2021
GSA financial planning advisory committee approves public meetings
by Jeffrey B. Roth
Members of the George Stevens Academy Secondary Education Financial Planning Advisory Committee (SEFPAC) voted unanimously to open meetings to the public during the May 24 meeting.
Public participation and increased transparency are core issues cited by town select and school board members who have raised concerns about the private, nonprofit high school’s request to increase tuition by $1,000 per student for the 2021-22 year. To date, voters in Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Castine, Penobscot and Surry have approved the tuition increase. Sedgwick voters will decide the issue on June 4, during the business portion of the annual town meeting.
Blue Hill select board member Jim Dow said the board believes the SEFPAC meetings should be open to the public; that votes on issues of substance should be recorded; that a mechanism be created to accept and respond to written questions from the public and compile and post those interactions in the form of a frequently asked questions (FAQ) link on GSA’s website; and, that SEFPAC members be allowed to vote on future tuition increase requests.
“There are some strong feelings among us that they ought to be open to the public, to be able to attend, even if they can’t participate,” Dow said. “If GSA wants to spread good will and share information about how it operates, it makes a lot of sense.”