Vassalboro school officials have no idea what returning to school in the fall will mean.
“We’ve got to be ready for change,” School Board Chairman Kevin Levasseur summarized during the board’s June 16 in-person meeting in the Vassalboro Community School (VCS) cafeteria.
Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer said he and colleagues have guidelines from the state education department, but they are not directives, and local school officials assume they will change as circumstances change. Pfeiffer does not expect decisions until late July at best.
School board member Jessica Clark said at a recent Maine School Board Association meeting no one had firm plans. Many participants hoped their schools will reopen, to accommodate parents with no child care and because “no school has the money or infrastructure to support 100% virtual education.”
Principal Megan Allen said VCS staff want to be in school, and a survey to which 40 parents responded found almost half of them would like the school to open. The rest, she said, were unsure or waiting to see how the health situation changes.
Pfeiffer pointed out that reopening the building will add costs, too, for such things as supplies, like masks and sanitizers; staff time to clean; and if students come and go in shifts, additional bus routes.
Pfeiffer and Allen anticipate an unusually busy summer as they monitor developments and try to be prepared for however the new school year starts.
Allen said the June 5 end-of-school parade was one of the best days of her life. Vassalboro fire trucks and the police car, school buses and decorated private vehicles toured much of the town visiting students who had not seen their teachers since March.
“We got to see so many kids – it was fantastic,” Allen said.
VCS also had a retirement parade for retiring literacy specialist Kathy Cioppa, of China, Allen said. She said Cioppa has been in education for 38 years, 35 of them at VCS.
One of the board’s June 16 decisions was to approve a copier lease agreement in conjunction with Waterville and Winslow schools. Pfeiffer said he, Waterville Superintendent Eric Haley and Winslow Superintendent Peter Thiboutot are discussing ways to continue mutually useful cooperation as the agreement that succeeded AOS (Alternative Educational Structure) 92 enters its final year. Voters in the three towns dissolved AOS 92 in the spring of 2018.
The next Vassalboro school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Aug. 18. As part of their usual summer routine, board members authorized the superintendent to sign contracts for new staff until then, to avoid losing a good candidate to a school system prepared to act faster.
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