VASSALBORO: Talks continue on VCS-located daycare
by Mary Grow
Jennifer Lizotte attended the Oct. 18 Vassalboro School Board meeting to continue discussion of the daycare program she heads at Vassalboro Community School (VCS) (see the Sept. 29 issue of The Town Line, p. 3, for the initial discussion).
Board members had compiled a page-and-a-half list of questions and comments about the program. Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer distributed suggestions for a lease agreement from the school attorneys.
Lizotte said at the previous meeting that the program runs from 6:30 a.m. to about 5:30 p.m. weekdays and has 44 youngsters enrolled. There are 26 names on the waiting list, she said; she has enough staff to enroll eight more, but there is not space for them in the area VCS can spare.
Lizotte thinks a daycare at the school is valuable; parents who go to work early or get home late, and parents who cannot pick up children in the middle of the day on an early release day, know their children have a safe place to stay.
Pfeiffer and board members agree an in-school daycare is a benefit. “Without the daycare a lot of families would be really facing hard times,” one person wrote.
There is concern about costs, though, and suggestions that the school charge rent in return for services provided – from electricity and heat to light bulbs and toilet paper – or that school officials explore possible town financial support.
Another comment asked about year-round security. Pfeiffer and Lizotte answered the question: the school has a crisis team and a regularly-updated crisis plan; daycares are required to have safety and security emergency plans; and when the two share a building, they cooperate.
The daycare discussion is scheduled to continue at the board’s Nov. 15 meeting.
In other business, Principal Ira Michaud reported favorable reactions to the September VCS newsletter. The colorful document was sent to students’ families; paper copies were left at the town office; and it is available on the website, vcsvikings.org, under the “Latest News” heading.
Assistant Principal Tabitha Brewer said she is working with town recreation committee members to bring community activities back to the VCS gym, after a covid-caused break.
“It’s nice to see some of the normalcy come back,” Pfeiffer commented.
Finance director Paula Pooler reported she sees no 2022-23 budget problems so far, and the food service program remains in the black. The audit of the 2021-22 fiscal year is under way, she said; and she has already set up 2023-24 budget accounts for the Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow school departments.
Curriculum coordinator Carol Kiesman was looking forward to a visit to the pre-kindergarten classes by officials from the state Department of Education. Pfeiffer was expecting federal and state emergency management personnel to discuss ongoing plans to make VCS an emergency shelter for the town.
School board members have almost finished reviewing the school’s strategic plan. The final version, when approved, will be put on the website, Pfeiffer said.
Pfeiffer issued another reminder to parents who have not yet filled out the application for free school meals: please do so. Breakfast and lunch are free by state law; but the forms are essential documentation, for example for applying for state and federal grants.
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