VASSALBORO: Back to school issues dominate board’s meeting

by Mary Grow

Not surprisingly, Vassalboro School Board members spent most of their Aug. 20 meeting discussing back-to-school issues. A preliminary result of their deliberations about the school lunch program appeared in the packets sent home to parents as school opened Aug. 27.

The welcome-back packet included a survey asking parents how often their children ate school-provided food, what they liked and disliked and especially what the meals program could do to encourage participation. Survey results will be anonymous and confidential. Information is also on the new website,

Board members and Superintendent Alan Pfieffer stressed the importance of student participation in the meals program, which includes breakfast and lunch. The state, using federal funds and guidelines, reimburses schools for free and reduced-price meals served to students whose families meet income requirements. Yet, Pfeiffer said, many families eligible for the program do not apply.

As a result, the Vassalboro Community School lunch program, like many others in Maine, runs a deficit, and Vassalboro doesn’t receive federal money for which it could be eligible.

Board members also voted to join the Kennebec Alliance Service Center, which is a totally different thing from the former AOS (Alternative Organizational Structure) #92.

The service center, Pfeiffer said, is a more organized version of the informal cooperation among school officials that has existed for decades in such forms as regular superintendents’ meetings, shared staff and cooperative purchasing among different schools and school units.

RSU (Regional School Unit) #18 Superintendent Carl Gartley has been a major proponent of increased cooperation, Pfeiffer said. New state legislation encourages the idea with financial incentives; Pfeiffer expects when the state contribution to local school budgets is calculated in the spring of 2020, Vassalboro will get about $33,000 added as a result of service center membership.

The Kennebec Alliance already includes schools from the Skowhegan area (School Administrative District #54) through Waterville to China, the easternmost RSU #18 member.

Vassalboro is also in the second year of a three-year contract to continue to use the services of former AOS #92 staff members, several of whom regularly attend Vassalboro board meetings. Each of the three former AOS members has its own superintendent. Pfeiffer said he, Eric Haley, in Waterville, and Peter Thiboutot, in Winslow, continue to work together.

In other business Aug. 20, board members unanimously appointed five new staff members at Vassalboro Community School and accepted three resignations.

The meeting was preceded by the first of several proposed long-range planning discussions aimed at evaluating current conditions and developing recommendations for building on strengths and overcoming weaknesses.

The next regular Vassalboro School Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Sept. 17.


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