ELLSWORTH — A new chairman, vice chairman and promises of transparency and inclusion marked what many community members will see as a shift in the direction of the Ellsworth School Board. Welcomed to the board were Elizabeth Alteri and Kelly McKenny, who won three-year terms in the Nov. 3 election.
Jennifer Alexander was the sole nomination for chairman at the board’s Nov. 10 meeting. The nomination was approved by a vote of 4-0 with one abstention, but not before board member Abigail Miller, who was elected vice chairman, grilled Alexander on her intentions if elected.
“Are you willing to report every meeting with minutes to the rest of the board?” Miller asked. “If meeting without [some board members], will you inform the rest of the board ahead [of time] and will they be able to join? Are you willing to report every meeting [with partial members], with minutes, to the rest of the board?”
“I’m sure there’s multiple opportunities to pass on that information,” Alexander said, adding, “I would be absolutely forthright.”
Miller also requested open discussions on committee assignments and inviting parents and staff to committee meetings when their input would be appropriate. That conversation, and moving School Board meetings to a venue that can accommodate the public, will be taken up at a Nov. 24 board workshop. Currently meetings are held in the council chambers and streamed on the Ellsworth High School Facebook page (and supposedly the city of Ellsworth’s YouTube channel, which it did not appear on).
In other business, a student expulsion was unanimously approved, with readmission possible after completion of a re-entry plan. Also approved were purchases of a new boiler for Hancock County Technical Center for the low bid of $89,800, a school bus for $95,000 and a used van with a communications system installed for $20,888 or, if the van doesn’t meet required specifications, $27,000 for a new van all unanimously passed. The vehicle purchases will come from CARES funds, while the boiler will mainly be funded through HCTC’s fund balance and capital reserve.
A discussion on the uncertainty surrounding the winter sports season will be revisited at a special board meeting, on the suggestion of Superintendent Dan Higgins.