Vassalboro school board decides on two “leftover” issues

The annual prize for Pi Day winners at Vassalboro Community School is the chance to throw a pie – whipped cream in a graham cracker crust into the face of a teacher or the principal. On Pi Day 2024, sixth-grade winners Mariah Estabrook (second from left) and Sarina LaCroix (third from left) so honored sixth-grade math teacher Stephanie Tuttle (left) and Principal Ira Michaud (right). (contributed photo)

by Mary Grow

At their March 19 meeting, Vassalboro school board members decided the two issues left undecided in February (see the Feb. 22 issue of The Town Line, p. 3) and continued review of the draft 2024-25 school budget.

Board members voted unanimously to approve a three-year contract with Jennifer Lizotte, who runs the daycare at Vassalboro Community School (VCS). The decision was accompanied by expressions of goodwill and approval from school administrators and Lizotte.

School personnel said the daycare is well run, Lizotte is cooperative with them and school staff whose children attend are happy.

Lizotte thanked school personnel for being helpful and understanding. She thanked the board for the three-year contract, which will let her plan ahead.

The present daycare space fits nicely with staff and enrollment, Lizotte said. She and board members talked about possible installation of a ceiling fan in the area for the summer term.

Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer said after discussion with Shelley Phillips, director of maintenance and grounds for Vassalboro and Winslow schools, the daily rent will be raised from $25 to $28. This figure will be reviewed annually.

The second month-old issue was whether to increase school board members’ stipends, currently $40 per meeting. Pfeiffer said many comparable boards’ members are rewarded more generously.

Board members voted unanimously not to change the figure. Several said they had run for school board without knowing there was a stipend.

No one could predict whether more money would encourage more residents to run for the board. Pfeiffer was doubtful, saying the number of volunteers for local positions has been declining state-wide.

Budget discussion covered two major accounts, administration and tuition. Pfeiffer emphasized that some figures are estimates.

For example, he does not have 2024-25 insurance costs and is guessing how big the increase will be. The state will calculate and release 2024-25 high-school tuition costs in December 2024; based on the last two years, Pfeiffer has penciled in a six percent in­crease.

In other business, Principal Ira Michaud said Vassalboro’s average daily attendance is at 94.9 percent, slightly below the state’s recommended goal of 95 percent. He explained the two types of absences, excused (when a parent calls in to say a student is ill, or the family is going on a trip) and unexcused (when no explanation is offered). Especially in the second case, he said, teachers are encouraged to call the family to see if the school can help.

Board member Jessica Clark alerted the rest of the board to the legislative bill LD 974, titled “An Act to Establish Minimum Pay for Educational Technicians and Other School Support Staff.” If it becomes effective, in 2025 some educational technicians could be paid more than teachers, she said.

Pfeiffer said the bill, if it becomes law, will have a “significant” monetary impact state-wide. He hopes if the legislature approves it, state funding will be provided.

Clark said Vassalboro’s legislators, Rep. Richard Bradstreet and Sen. Matthew Pouliot, told her the bill is likely to pass and advised her to address her concerns to Governor Janet Mills.

Principal Michaud’s report included thanks to the Vassalboro Parent-Teacher Organization for supplies for two recent events, Bubble Day and Pi Day.

He said school counselor, Gina Davis, introduced Bubble Day, with students outdoors blowing bubbles, as an observance of the first day of spring.

Pi Day, the annual observance of the “mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, approximately equal to 3.14159,” drew 34 contestants trying to remember as much of the endless number as they could. Michaud said the winners were, in third place, fifth-grader Ashlynn Hamlin; second place, sixth-grader Mariah Estabrook; and first-place, reciting 167 digits, sixth-grader Sarina LaCroix.

Board members plan to continue budget discussion at their regular meeting Tuesday evening, April 9. Pfeiffer is considering scheduling an additional special budget meeting.


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