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News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 17, 2012
Penobscot parking lot permits issued, PTF questions answered

by Anne Berleant

School committee members responded to a parent’s concerns over the PTF and heard an update on the parking lot expansion project at their May 14 meeting. Jody Norton stepped in as chairman in the absence of Chairman Jerry Markley; member Jennifer Pert was also absent.

Superintendent Mark Hurvitt reported that a permit application to the Department of Environmental Protection for work on the parking lot project was submitted on May 9. Planning Board and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have already approved the project.

The project to upgrade and expand the current parking lot was approved by voters around five years ago. At that time, $20,000 was placed in a reserve account, but the project was delayed by needed work on the school’s overboard discharge system.

“The next step is to go out to bid,” said Hurvitt, who will contact the town selectmen to initiate the process.

Mark Gray, a parent of an eighth-grade student, told members that at a recent PTF meeting he was not given an opportunity to fully speak, did not receive answers to questions he raised on the division of funds raised by PTF functions, and was treated rudely by “a couple” of members. Gray’s immediate concern was the funds raised by the April 28 White Elephant yard sale.

“If I can’t speak there, I can speak here,” he said.

Board member Anne Hayes-Grillo, who attended the last PTF meeting, said that the meeting wasn’t a regular meeting and his questions weren’t fully answered because the treasurer was not present. She encouraged him to attend the upcoming May 22 meeting and add any concerns to its agenda.

However, she and principal Allen Cole were able to give Gray answers to his questions.

While Gray said he and other parents of eighth-graders were told by some PTF members that the White Elephant yard sale proceeds would be split 50-50 with the eighth-grade class, to help fund their class trip, this proved to be not entirely accurate.

“With money, as it turns out, comes controversy,” Cole said.

Cole said the plan was for the eighth-grade class to get half of sale proceeds up to $500. If more than $500 was raised, they would receive a lower proportion. The total amount raised by the sale was $1,500; it was not stated at the meeting, however, exactly how much of that amount the eighth-grade class was awarded.

“Considering all this miscommunication, shouldn’t there be structure” to the PTF? Gray asked.

Board member Jim Goodman and Hayes-Grillo reported that creating bylaws and a charter would be on the next meeting’s agenda.

“It’s transitioning,” Cole said, because of a resurgence of interest in the organization.

In other news, interviews for a two-day physical education/one-day health teacher are being held on Friday, May 18. A board member was asked to join the hiring committee, comprising Cole, Adams school principal Katie Frothingham and an Adams School teacher. Castine also needs a physical education teacher for two-days per week.

“There’s no obligation to have the same person, but it makes a lot of sense,” said Cole.

Five teachers were unanimously approved for second-year probationary contracts: Darcy Currier, Alyse Volovick, Chandra Bisberg, Susan Varnum (8 percent time) and Martha Brown (20 percent time).

The board also gave unanimous approval to accept the donation of a pitching machine by the PTF, to allow teacher Kelly Hasselbrack’s son to attend the school as a non-resident for as long as she is employed by the school and to the 2012-13 school calendar, with the first student school day set for September 4.

The school committee next meets on Monday, June 11, 6 p.m., at the school.