by Mary Grow
Procedural issues dominated at the Vassalboro School Board’s Oct. 18 meeting, as AOS (Alternative Organizational Structure) #92 officials explained some of the issues the central office deals with for Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow schools.
Superintendent Eric Haley described the process by which bills are generated and paid, listing the numerous reviews both in the local schools and in the central office aimed at ensuring expenditures are justified. Assistant Superintendent Peter Thiboutot explained the federal programs in which AOS #92 schools take part. The purpose of federal school funding is primarily to help students who fail to meet educational standards by assisting in various areas of need. Each category is called a title.
Vassalboro receives funds from three of the six federal Titles, Thiboutot said. In 2016-17, Title I provides $152,481; Title II, $24,306; and Title VI, $24,000. Title I programs provide support in reading and math; allocations are based on the percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches. At Vassalboro Community School, 43 percent of students receive free lunch and another seven percent receive reduced-price lunch. One teacher and two educational technicians are paid with Title I funds; a third technician works in the program but is paid from the local budget because the federal funds are inadequate.
Title II money is used for professional development activities. Receiving schools are allowed to transfer up to half their Title II money to Title I; Vassalboro does so, Thiboutot said.
Title VI is called Rural Low Income, and Thiboutot described it as a catch-all that covers a variety of support activities, from contracts with behavioral health counselors to certain after-school clubs and activities.
In preparation for the Oct. 27 meeting of the Maine School Board Association, Vassalboro board members reviewed and endorsed four proposed resolutions. Three ask for legislative action to: 1) confirm that allowing a student to transfer to a school in another town should be a decision of the two superintendents involved, not to be overridden by state officials; 2) review rising teacher retirement costs that the state shifted onto school districts’ budgets in 2015; and 3) create a task force to review special education costs and needs. The fourth resolution asks the governor’s office to nominate a new Commissioner of Education for 2017 legislative confirmation.
The next Vassalboro School Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Nov. 15.