Vassalboro school board members got positive reports on the opening of school and the financial situation at their Sept. 20 meeting.
Principal Ira Michaud reported that staff members and students are starting the fall semester cheerfully. Eliminating masking and distancing requirements helped, he wrote: “For the first time in over two years school feels more relaxed and everyone feels more connected.”
Soccer games are under way and after-school clubs will be starting in early October.
Finance director Paula Pooler reported that the 2022-23 budget shows no problems. The unaudited 2021-22 budget, for the fiscal year that ended June 30, says the undesignated fund balance increased substantially, to over $1.2 million, she said.
Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer contrasted that preliminary figure with 2018, when the school department had a deficit of more than $250,000.
Pooler said part of the money came from additional state revenue during the pandemic. Another substantial portion is pandemic related, but less happily: school officials saved about $145,000 in payroll, because they were unable to fill positions.
Pooler does not expect such positive numbers in the future. School officials will make recommendations for using the surplus as part of 2023-24 budget planning.
Jennifer Lizotte joined board members to talk about the before and after school daycare program that has been housed at Vassalboro Community School for many years. There is less space for the program this year, raising questions about the agreement with school authorities.
Lizotte said the program operates weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to about 5:30 p.m. Currently 44 youngsters are enrolled, and she has a growing waiting list.
School board members agreed the service is valuable to Vassalboro parents. They will continue to monitor the situation.
The next regular Vassalboro school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Oct. 20.
Reminder to submit school lunch application
A reminder to all parents of Vassalboro Community School students: if you have not yet filled out and sent in your application for free and reduced-price school meals, please do so as soon as possible.
And do not be dismayed if you get a rejection: your children attending VCS will still get free breakfasts and lunches, because Maine is one of two states providing free school meals (California is the other).
The applications are important, officials said at the Sept. 20 school board meeting, because the number of qualified students determines the level of funding VCS receives under the federal Title One program and some state funding programs. Underreporting means VCS will not get its fair share of outside funding.