VASSALBORO: Teachers ask for more professional development time

Vassalboro Community School (contributed photo)

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro School Board members spent most of their May 16 meeting discussing the 2023-24 school calendar, and scheduled a special zoom meeting for May 22 to approve a final version, after Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer wrote up their revisions and ran them by staff members.

The main issue was professional development time, scheduled hours for staff to do workshops and training and work together on educational issues.

This past year has seen two early release days most months, days when students go home at midday so staff can meet in the afternoon. Principal Ira Michaud reported the most recent day had been used for a zoom workshop with an outside expert.

Alternatives to early release days include late start days (used in some other Maine school organizations, people said) or full days without students. Discussion tried to balance two objectives: maximizing staff time for cooperative work while minimizing inconvenience to parents.

Michaud emphasized that students benefit from the staff development time. The purpose is to share current information and ideas that make classroom teaching more effective.

Pfeiffer reported after the May 22 meeting that school board members unanimously approved the 2023-24 calendar. It will be shared with parents in mailings and posted on the school website,

In other business May 16:

  • Michaud reported after screening for next year’s prekindergarten and kindergarten classes, preliminary figures are 29 prekindergarten students and 39 kindergarten students.
  • Pfeiffer said plans for summer work include repointing and sealing the school building’s brick exterior, more security upgrades and adding acoustic tiles to reduce noise in the cafeteria.
  • Michaud said third-graders won this spring’s penny-collecting contest. The Student Council voted to use the about $400 collected to buy larger national and state flags for the flagpole in front of the school.

Another thought students had was to replace the worn-out slide on the playground, but Michaud said a new slide would cost between $6,000 and $10,000. He’ll keep the need in mind and hope to find money.

  • Board members approved Mia Sargent as the new art teacher and Joel Estes, who has been a substitute teacher, as an Educational Technician III.

Michaud said Sargent spent a year becoming a credentialed art teacher, after eight years’ experience as an elementary-school classroom teacher. She succeeds Sue Briggs, one of the two Vassalboro Community School long-timers retiring next month; kitchen manager Mary Dumont is the other.

Pfeiffer and Michaud praised VCS staff for their hard work as school enters “the new normal” after the disruptive covid years.

This year’s eight-grade promotion is scheduled for 6 p.m., Monday, June 12, at the China Lake Conference Center, on Neck Road, in China.

After the special May 22 meeting, the next regular Vassalboro School Board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday, June 20.

Board members set their annual summer workshop for 5 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 18, to be followed by the summer school board meeting at 6:45 p.m.


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