News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, December 12, 2019
GSA tuition, MEA results dominate Castine School Board meeting

by Anne Berleant

Results from Maine Educational Assessment tests and further discussion of a $2,000 tuition increase with George Stevens Academy Head of School Tim Seeley and trustee Zoe Tenney filled the majority of a December 4 school board meeting, with a welcome to newly elected member Jake Simmons and a nod to the Calvineers, who departed that morning for the World Marine Mammal Science Conference in Barcelona noted.

Seeley and Tenney came to answer questions following a presentation of the request, which increases high school tuition at the independent school from about $12,200 to $14,200 per student, that they presented at a Union 93 board meeting last month. Seeley reiterated that GSA’s timing of their request, when many schools have started drafting budgets for next year, was necessary because they were waiting for this year’s admissions numbers and verification of financial numbers. He also expressed GSA’s willingness to share its financial records. “What would you like to know, rather than us trying to guess?” he asked.

Seeley also emphasized that GSA’s tuition request of $14,200 per student is in line with high schools of its size in Maine, and that towns subsidize elementary education above the state set per-student amount every year.

“It costs what it costs….We can only provide the education that towns are willing to pay for,” he said.

Seeley also discussed reaching an agreement among the sending towns—Blue Hill, Brooksville, Castine, Penobscot and Surry of Union 93 and Brooklin and Sedgwick of Union 76—to phase in the approximately $2,000 tuition raise over a three-year period. “We’ll have to figure out in the meanwhile how we manage that, [but] it’s very hard to see how it works if it’s not a common agreement.”

He also said that, in concert with Union 93 superintendent Mark Hurvitt and Union 76 Superintendent Christian Elkington, a proposal may be broached at the December 18 Union 93 meeting.

Union 93 Curriculum Coordinator Dawn McLaughlin reviewed the Maine Educational Assessment standardized test results in English, math and science for 2017-18, which were recently released by the Maine Department of Education. She noted that in a school the size of Adams School, one or two students can skew scores but that students in Castine have shown increases over the past three years in all areas.

“It’s nice seeing it [student achievement] come out in ways other people recognize,” Principal Sheila Irvine said.

In other business, the board approved moving the board meeting start time to from 5 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., and to have Bill Schubeck direct the jazz band. The board meets the first Wednesday of each month at the school.