FROM LEFT, ARE Selectman Peter Oceretko, Town Administrator Adam Garland, and newly elected school board members Keith Hinds, Dennis Crews, Jordi St. John, Robert McDaniel and Meagan Hennessey at a meeting on Wednesday night.

FROM LEFT, ARE Selectman Peter Oceretko, Town Administrator Adam Garland, and newly elected school board members Keith Hinds, Dennis Crews, Jordi St. John, Robert McDaniel and Meagan Hennessey at a meeting on Wednesday night.

WEST BATH

With West Bath’s departure from the RSU 1 in January, assembling a school board has been a priority that has finally come to fruition. Five new members of the West Bath School Board were sworn in at the board’s first meeting on Wednesday night.

On April 7, West Bath residents elected Dennis Crews and Keith Hinds to serve a three-year term on the school board; Jordi St. John and Robert McDaniel were chosen to serve a two-year term, and Meagan Hennessey was selected to serve a one-year term.

Paula Nelson, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, was grateful for the new leadership.

“On behalf of the board of selectmen, we really appreciate you stepping forward and wanting to fill these shoes,” she said to the board.

Selectman Peter Oceretko and Town Administrator Adam Garland facilitated the meeting before turning it over to the board, which went on to elect a chairman and vice chair from among their members.

During the nomination process, McDaniel suggested that the board select an experienced member who was knowledgeable about West Bath’s exit from RSU 1.

“It should fall upon someone who has experience with the transition committee and the whole separation process,” he said. “I think at this at point, it really makes sense to have the expertise at the top so we can really hit the ground running.”

Board members seemed to agree and elected Crews, a member of the transition committee, as chairman, and Hinds as vice chair of the board.

Eyeing the budget

The school budget was an important topic of discussion at the meeting, and Emily Thompson, the principal of the West Bath School, outlined several issues that the board might consider when modifying the school budget.

Thompson discussed some maintenance concerns that were not included in the draft budget, but could be added at the board’s discretion.

One issue was the hole in the roof of the school building, a concern that was made aware to the RSU 1 in May 2014, though no further action was taken.

Among additional problems like the ongoing frost heave in the back parking lot of the school, Thompson also said the school’s heating system needed attention this year.

“It’s really about getting the system back up to speed and getting it automated,” she said. “Our classrooms in the winter could really be 60 degrees to 90 degrees — there’s no predicting. And it’s not broken, just antiquated.”

Pre-K program

Thompson also expressed the possibility and need for a five-day pre-K program in West Bath.

After meeting with the current pre-K providers of RSU 1, she said nine children from West Bath will continue in the pre-K programs, with the draft budget slated to support up to12 children at these external providers.

However, Thompson said two of the current sites will no longer meet the state’s pre-K mandates, affecting seven of the nine West Bath children in the program.

“That is also something that we need to pay close attention to, and it’s a real priority,” she said.

With some challenges on the horizon, Garland assured that the board would not be “left on an island,” but could rely on the town as a reliable support system during this new journey.

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