June 27, 2022

SAD 49 to discuss leader’s contract

FAIRFIELD – The SAD 49 board on Thursday will consider extending Superintendent Dean Baker’s contract by one year.

During the meeting, set for 7 p.m. at Lawrence High School, board members will conduct Baker’s annual performance evaluation in executive session then vote on his contract in open session.

Baker has been superintendent since the fall of 1995. Before taking the job, he served as superintendent of schools in York for one year and as assistant superintendent in SAD 49 for more than six years. Baker began his career in education as a teacher in Vermont.

Baker, who currently earns $84,000 annually, is expected to receive a contract extension and a slight raise.

In other matters Thursday, the board is expected to set Jan. 16 as the date for what supporters hope will be the final vote on funding for the Williamson Arts & Technology Center.

SAD 49 voters approved the $5.5 million project nearly two years ago. This time, they must approve the release of about $1.4 million from an endowment fund to buy furniture and equipment, Baker said.

“We’re being very conservative, legally, on this,” he said, given previous legal battles over use of the endowment to create the center. The school district has prevailed in all cases.

The Williamson Center, under way as an addition to the Lawrence junior and senior high school complex, was paid for largely with $4.7 million from a trust fund left to Fairfield by businessman Bert R. Williamson in 1965. The remaining $800,000 in construction costs came from community donations.

Approval of the remaining funds in January largely would exhaust the endowment, Baker said. The school district plans to use slightly more than $1.1 million to equip the center, then place $250,000 into a reserve fund for future projects.

“This is additional money,” Baker said. “We want to be prudent and careful.”

In a related matter, the SAD 49 board also is expected to approve Fleet Bank of Maine to handle Williamson funds that have been transferred to SAD 49 from the town of Fairfield.

The arrangement would give Baker and Charles Richardson, the school district’s business manager, sole access to the custody account. The bank would hold the Williamson funds, including the proposed $250,000 reserve, until they are needed.

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