Michael_Reagan@TimesRecord.Com 08/10/2006 Embattled Bath school official replaces GallaudetRICHMOND - The Richmond School Committee chose Martha Witham as the new superintendent on Wednesday night.She will replace outgoing Richmond Superintendent Denison Gallaudet, who resigned the three-fifths time position in late April, citing a desire to return to the business world.Witham is currently the superintendent of schools for the Bath School Department.The Bath Board of Education had been scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. today to discuss her contract with that school system.With the news that Richmond has offered her its position, it is expected that Witham will discuss with the Bath school board a time frame for leaving Bath to assume her new job. The Bath board will meet at the Huse Kindergarten Center at 39 Andrews Road.Witham was one of two finalists for the part-time Richmond job.
Gallaudet had a similar salary range, but Adams added that Witham has more administrative experience than Gallaudet.
Quimby was one of two dissenting votes in a July 20 Board of Education decision to offer Witham a raise from $86,500 to $90,645.
Witham was in a meeting and unavailable for comment this morning, according to a spokeswoman for her office.
Richmond Superintendent Martha Witham said the air exchange unit has a price tag of $685,000 which includes the duct system that would have to be installed to meet code.Witham said the existing air exchange unit on top of the school has a life expectancy of 25 years and is now more than 30 years old.The school can no longer order replacement parts, however, and the old unit is contributing to a leak in the roof.In addition, the company that will be doing an energy audit on the building later this fall has already said the unit should be replaced.
The new unit would cost about $250,000, Witham said, but the cost to bring the entire system up to code, including the installation of the duct system, pushes the cost up.The new system would make the heating system more efficient and put more fresh air into the building.There would be carbon monoxide monitors in each classroom allowing the unit to provide the needed level of fresh air based on the occupancy, Witham said. Richmond is part of a new regional school unit (Kennebec Intra-District Schools made up of Hallowell, Farmingdale, Richmond, Monmouth and Dresden) that goes into effect July 1, 2009.Witham said the new RSU would pick up the cost of the new unit and that Richmond will contribute the portion called for under the RSU terms agreed upon.Witham said the school department isn't required to have a special town meeting to make the purchase but said the town appreciates having a say on special purchases."We do want the town voters to weigh in," Witham said.
"I personally think a tax cap would make more sense than a spending cap because a spending cap doesn't take into account revenues," said Martha Witham, Bath's superintendent of schools.
The school department's situation is more complex, said Superintendent Witham.For one, it blocks the formation of new programs Witham would like to institute, such as pre-kindergarten classes, new vocational programs and an in-house day treatment program for special education students. The day treatment program could create additional revenue for the school department instead of costing up to $40,000 per year, said Witham, but the revenue wouldn't benefit other programs that need it - and it's because of the tax cap.
Bath Superintendent Martha Witham and Union 47 Superintendent William Shuttleworth met last year with a representative from the Maine Department of Education and posed several questions about the financial implications of joining the two districts, but so far they say they have heard no responses.
Witham said that's what's holding up the process. "There's still nothing from Augusta," said Witham.
Richmond Superintendent Martha Witham said she will also be at the meeting to try to answer questions, and will present information on where the school budget stands so far and explain why there's a requirement for more local money to be raised this year.She said there will be a less than 2-percent increase in the budget.There is a school board meeting tonight and Witham didn't know if the budget will be finalized at that meeting.
Witham will also explain the referendum vote now required on the budget and explain the consolidation vote that will be on the ballot June 10.
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