Vassalboro school board hears upbeat reports

Vassalboro Community School (contributed photo)

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro School Board members heard a series of upbeat reports and appointed an unusual number of new staff members at their Aug. 16 meeting, the last one before classes at Vassalboro Community School (VCS) start again Sept. 1.

Both new Principal Ira Michaud, in his written report, and Director of Maintenance and Grounds Shelley Phillips, in her oral report, had high praise for the crew who worked on the building and grounds over the summer: head custodian Paul Gilbert and staff Jim Boucher, Ashley Smith and her mother, Bev Smith, Valerie Parent and Theresa Watkins. Michaud called the group “absolutely top-notch” and commended their “amazing hard work.” Projects included a major office renovation, reorganizing classroom spaces, the most wall-repainting ever done in a single summer, cleaning and helping teachers move from one room to another.

Phillips added a commendation to Greg Vigue, a contractor she has known for years and lined up over the winter in anticipation of the office rearrangement.

Part of that project was adding air conditioning for the benefit of administrators who worked at the school all summer. “It was a wonderful surprise,” Michaud said.

Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer added two more benefits: the cool air is good for the computers and electronics, and when the door is left open, it spreads into the maintenance crew’s break room. And, Phillips added, the work qualified for an Efficiency Maine rebate, as did some of the new exterior lighting (which she suggested residents drive by the school in the dark to admire).

She and Pfeiffer also recommend daylight drive-bys to admire the grounds. Phillips credited Darrell Gagnon for excellent maintenance work.

Phillips had two more pieces of good news for school board members. Two fixtures that had been blamed for lead in school water were replaced and the new ones tested fine; and, after weeks of suspense, the PFAS test results for the VCS water supply came back and the water “passed with flying colors.”

Pfeiffer added a thank-you to former select board member John Melrose, who led the project that connected the school and municipal buildings with a solar energy installation. The change saved a little more than $16,000 on the electric bill between January and July 2022, Pfeiffer said.

He also thanked Don and Lisa Breton for organizing the annual school supplies drive. Donations of money and supplies – the list on a website named “Vassalboro Community Events” ranges from pencils, crayons, notebooks and construction paper to clothing, backpacks and calculators – may be delivered to the North Vassalboro fire station Saturday, Aug. 27, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Pfeiffer called the past summer a period of “unprecedented professional mobility” not just in Vassalboro, but state-wide and nation-wide. School board members approved more than a dozen new staff members; there were still at least three vacancies as of Aug. 16.

Orientation for new staff is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 29, beginning at 8:30 a.m. with the annual introduction to the town, a bus tour led by North Vassalboro resident Lauchlin Titus. Tuesday, Aug. 30, and Wednesday, Aug. 31 are listed on the school calendar as staff in-service days. Pfeiffer said members of the Kennebec Retired Educators Association will provide refreshments and assistance.

Classes will be held Friday, Sept. 1, and resume Tuesday, Sept. 6, after the Labor Day Monday holiday.

The next school board meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 20, at VCS, will start at 5:30 p.m. with a discussion of the school’s strategic plan, with the formal agenda to begin at 6 p.m.


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