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ERIC Number: ED506940
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-May-15
Pages: 103
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 28
Perceptions and Process: Early Findings from a Study of School District Consolidation in Maine. A Report to the Penquis Superintendents' Association
Fairman, Janet; Harris, Walter; Hoff, Dianne; Mackenzie, Sarah; Chapin, Gary; Allen, Debra
Center for Research and Evaluation
In June 2007 the Governor of Maine signed legislation that required the state's 290 school administrative units (SAUs) to seek partners for a reorganization that would reduce the number of SAUs to approximately 80 Regional School Units (RSUs) (Maine State Legislature, 2007). This policy initiative is the first reorganization of Maine's school districts since 1957. The planning for reorganization is to be done by Regional Planning Committees (RPCs) that consist of representatives of the municipalities, school boards, and the general public. This study examines the process and progress of school district reorganization, and perceptions of key actors about reorganization, drawing on data from case studies of five RPCs and RPCs statewide during the first year of the initiative. The findings to date from this study indicate that RPCs have been working diligently on the tasks required by legislation to reorganize Maine school districts. While there is compliance with the law and general agreement that more efficient ways of delivering high quality education programs can and should be found, the early findings of this study provide evidence that full support for reorganization is lacking in much of the education community. This lack of support appears to be related to several factors. Additional research is needed to validate these findings beyond the limited sample of this study. The findings from this research suggest that the lack of support for school district reorganization is rooted in four fundamental problems: (1) pressure from time constraints and mandates; (2) lack of confidence in the stability of the initiative; (3) lack of credibility of primary goals; and (4) threats to local values around governance and school choice. Overall, these factors describe threats to a policy initiative that, on the surface appears to be moving forward toward implementation. Seven appendices are included: (1) Table showing data sources for the study; (2) Tables showing the number of interviews and returned surveys from the first round of data collection (interviews from November 2007 to March 2008, surveys from November 2007 and January 2008); (3) Survey of RPC Members, Fall 2007; (4) Interview Protocol for RPC Members, Fall 2007; (5) Data tables showing the results of the RPC Member Survey; (6) Data table showing progress on elements of reorganization plans as of December 2007 and March 2008 for the five sample RPCs; and (7) Data tables showing some of the analyses of data from reorganization plans filed by districts statewide in December 2007. (Contains 25 tables.) [Funding for this research was provided by the Penquis Superintendents' Association.]
Center for Research and Evaluation. College of Education and Human Development, University of Maine, 5766 Shibles Hall, Orono, ME 04469. Tel: 207-581-2493; Fax: 207-581-9510; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: University of Maine, Center for Research and Evaluation
Identifiers - Location: Maine