Vassalboro school board discusses buildings & grounds

Vassalboro Community School (contributed photo)

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro School Super­intendent Alan Pfeiffer doesn’t know yet how much larger next year’s school budget will be compared to this year’s, but he expects an increase.

One item on the school board’s March 21 agenda was continued review of sections of the draft 2023-24 budget (see The Town Line, March 16, pp. 8-9). Board members discussed the school health program and building and grounds maintenance.

They scheduled a budget workshop Wednesday, March 29, at Vassalboro Community School (VCS). If they have enough information from the state education department and other sources, they hope to review the entire budget.

Pfeiffer reported March 21 that fuel prices had been determined, and he and Director of Maintenance and Grounds Shelley Phillips are pleased. The school department has locked in Dead River Company’s low bids: heating oil at $3.07 a gallon (10 cents over the current year, and they had feared at least a dollar increase); diesel fuel at $3.11 a gallon; and the small amount of propane needed at $1.74 a gallon (slightly less than this year, Pfeiffer said).

The total building and grounds budget Pfeiffer and Phillips shared with school board members is over $577,000, an increase of more than $31,000 (5.8 percent) over the current year. Higher wages and associated benefits account for much of the increase.

Phillips presented details on building maintenance plans. Two ongoing projects are replacing worn-out plumbing fixtures and replacing fluorescent lights with LED (the acronym stands for light-emitting diode) lights.

She told board members three major projects are pending in the next two or three years. The 31-year-old school (still referred to as “the new building,” she commented) needs its exterior brickwork cleaned and repointed and the gymnasium roof replaced; and curbing along driveways and parking lots needs replacing.

During discussion of the much smaller health budget, Pfeiffer commended new school nurse Megan Sutherburg and former nurse Mary Ann Fortin. Fortin, he said, subs when necessary and came in for several days to help during an outbreak of influenza.

An early highlight of the March 21 meeting was Principal Ira Michaud’s report on the VCS Pi Day celebration. Students competed to recite from memory the most digits of the number pi (which begins 3.14159 and goes on indefinitely).

Michaud reported, using adjectives “amazing” and “astounding,” that the runner-up in the contest was fifth-grader Serena Lacroix, who recited 130 digits and was disappointed: she’d done 150 in practice. The winner was sixth-grader Adrian Souza, who recited 187 digits correctly.

Winners were allowed to throw a pie at either the principal or the math teacher. His report included a photo of fifth-grade math teacher Lorraine Kingsbury and himself garnished with whipped cream.

The principal looks forward to scheduling other student competitions, like a spelling bee and a geography bee.

He also praised school counselor Gina David for holding Bubble Day to celebrate the first day of spring. Students blew bubbles on the playground; Michaud reported some called it “the greatest day at school they had ever had.”

Michaud summarized recent professional development programs, including one shared with Regional School Unit (RSU) #18 staff at the invitation of RSU #18 Superintendent Carl Gartley. The majority of teachers who attended said they would welcome more such cooperative programs; Michaud hopes some can be scheduled.

In other business, school board members unanimously approved the revised board handbook they have worked on for some weeks, subject to a replacement for the outdated cover photo. Pfeiffer plans to have the handbook on the VCS website,, and to distribute paper copies to public places in town.

After the March 29 budget meeting, the next regular Vassalboro school board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 11, in the VCS library. If another budget meeting is needed, it will be held as soon as possible after March 29.


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