AUGUSTA — The school board voted to amend its media relations policy to remove a ban on all board members, other than the chairperson, from providing information or commenting to the news media.

The local policy on board relations with the media, adopted in 2011, prohibits board members from commenting or providing information to the media.

The school board voted Wednesday to approve the first reading — a second reading and vote is required for final passage — of an amended media relations policy that would remove the last paragraph of the policy.

“When individual board members receive requests from news media representatives for information or comment, they shall refer such inquiries to the board chair who shall be public spokesperson for the board,” that paragraph of the policy states.

The change approved in a first reading Wednesday replaces that paragraph with one stating the board chairperson is the designated spokesperson for the board but adding that nothing in the policy prevents board members from speaking to the media and expressing their own opinions.

Board members approved the change unanimously.


No members of the public commented on the policy or the proposed change.

The board’s Personnel Committee voted 2-0, with one abstention, Aug. 1 to recommend the full school board delete the media relations policy.

Laura Hamilton, at-large board member and chairwoman of the Personnel Committee, and Tom Connors, at-large board member and a committee member, were the two committee members who recommend the policy be nullified.

Hamilton said Wednesday the committee decided to recommend the policy be deleted because it was not required, which she said lines up with a previous board conclusion that it doesn’t want to create policies that aren’t required. She said the policy manual is thick.

Jennifer Neumeyer, at-large school board member and Personnel Committee member, abstained from the Aug. 1 vote on the recommendation to delete the policy. She said she thought the policy was good, and there must have been some reason it was put in place in October 2011.

Kim Martin has been chairwoman for two years and has been the board’s media liaison.


Martin, who joined the school board in January 2011, said she didn’t recall why the policy was adopted then, and minutes from meetings from 2011 don’t indicate why the policy was adopted.

Donna Madore, assistant superintendent, said she inquired with officials of Maine School Management Association, a nonprofit federation of local school boards and superintendents, seeking similar policies Augusta could consider as models if board members wished to change the policy. She said association officials said the only policy they could provide was from a New York school.

Madore said board members reviewed the policy because they received an email from a community member expressing concerns about it.

Martin said the community member didn’t like the ban on board members talking to the media, but he indicated he understood the reason for the policy in general.

Jennifer Day, Ward 1 board member, speaking against deleting the entire policy, said she spoke with representatives of other area school boards, who said having a media policy was helpful for them, especially when dealing with contentious issues involving budgets and school administrators.

Board members also voted 4-2 on Wednesday to give a 2.5 percent raise to Superintendent James Anastasio.


Anastasio’s current salary is about $115,000 a year.

Proponents said the 2.5 percent raise, which amounts to about $2,900 a year, is in line with raises given to other school system employees this year.

Martin said Anastasio’s salary is “in the middle” of the pay range for superintendents of similarly sized Maine school systems.

Edward Hastings, at-large board member, who voted against the raise, said he wanted the board to have a larger conversation about its financial situation before considering a raise for the superintendent.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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