Superintendent's Report

November 28, 2022

To: RSU #74 Board of Directors

Re: Superintendent Report for December 7, 2022

I Hope this report finds you well and with a renewed sense of energy after the holiday as the next one runs right at us! The Campbells enjoyed a tasty feast and each other's company over the weekend. Yes, we were still eating leftovers this weekend!

In an email before break, I shared that enrollment is growing at CCS. This significant influx had impacted the culture in a not so positive manner. This accompanied with the increased behaviors of two special education students made the halls of the lower wing unsettled. As I shared in the email, Jaime, Grace and I scheduled a meeting with the entire staff on that end of the building so each had the opportunity to share their concerns/frustrations. After a couple minutes I was wondering if I had made a mistake but by the time we got to the end, people were feeling heard and ready to work together to find solutions. We actually met later that week to discuss how to move forward by sharing what it means to be safe, respectful, and responsible with the student K-5 and developed a reward system to recognize those students who are being safe, responsible, and respectful. Jaime sent home a memo outlining these rewards as well as what student consequences would be going forward for those who are not safe, respectful, and /or responsible. I also met one-on-one with the Special Education teacher who is the case manager for the two students who had an uptick in behaviors. Besides identifying temporary rooms for this teacher to use for instructional purposes keeping her smaller rooms open for times the two little ones need alone time, we moved an employee from the HS/MS to the K-5 wing to provide additional support in the K-5 wing emphasis on Special Education setting. We are able to use COVID monies to fund a ed-tech position at the high school enabling us to advertise for an additional position at CCS to support the increased enrollment in Special Education. If we get a qualified candidate, we will send the person hired to cover in-house suspensions back to the role they were hired for.

The work that was done in the CCS K-5 to assist staff with behavior modifications identified challenges placed upon staff by new State legislation. Effective recently, legislation has really handcuffed schools options for discipline. With a few exceptions for major behaviors (weapons in school), schools can no longer suspend a student through grade 5. Schools can no longer use recess loss as a consequence without providing for an alternative time for the student to have a recess. Another piece of legislation has modified actions teachers can take regarding the restraint of a student. Unless a student is in imminent danger to him/herself, you can not prevent them carrying out their planned/unplanned actions. To give you a ludicrous example….you see a child about to hit another student and you step in between the two and take the punch/slap…that is an example of restraint…there is paperwork to be completed. Another ludicrous example is a student running down the hallway, one is expected to let them run and follow behind to attempt to verbally redirect them. Like any rule/law, I suspect this statute was created to prevent a staff member from going to the extreme which to me means someone somewhere must have. I authorized the purchase of a video on the new guidelines around restraint that was produced by the district law firm, Drummond and Woodsum. All RSU #74 staff including substitute teachers and volunteers will be expected to view the video.

As we head into flu season, substitute shortages are already apparent in the classroom. I have asked Linda to create a flier we will post around the school district in businesses and post offices to try to generate interest. Scott Hall is also going to post the flier on the district Facebook account. I have asked the administrative team to host an informational meeting for prospective candidates to answer any questions they may have. As well, we discussed offering substitute teacher training during the afternoon of the early release day in January. I was questioned about the pay for substitutes offered by the district being low but believe the data collected earlier and shared with you showed we are very competitive with area systems. We are open to suggestions. Thank you.

Our agenda for December includes:

Three appointments:

We had a retirement at GSS in janitorial services. We wish to thank Maureen Simpson for her years of service and dedication to making Garret Schenck a clean and welcoming school. Robert has recommended Jonathan Ladd to fill this 6 hour a day position. Mr. Ladd was working in a neighboring school system performing similar duties.

Mr. Carey has been able to find candidates to fill vacant coaching positions. We are offering the CHS JV girls' position to Kate Cooley. Kate is the JMG specialist at Madison High School. She has experience playing basketball at Madison. Kate is a former student of mine. As well he has nominated Brooke Welch to be the CCS Girls’ B team position. A recent graduate of Carrabec, Brooke played basketball for the Cobras.

Action Items:

We are bringing policies back for a second reading. The Policy sub-committee is recommending approval of the changes to Policy AC, Policy ACAA, and Policy ACAB. As well we are asking for your approval of the procedures to be followed by the ACO/Title IX coordinator or in some cases an independent investigator for Policy ACAA and Policy ACAB. Because these are procedures not policies, these do not necessarily need Board approval but I am recommending a vote of support. We did discuss in the sub-committee meeting the possible use of an independent investigator but at this time area districts are doing their investigation work internally. I am recommending we leave the wording of potential use of an independent investigator for two reasons. The first is that it may be in the best interest of the school system if the investigation is handled by someone not directly associated with the district particularly when it comes to personnel. This is a small district and everyone knows everyone and using an independent investigator would remove the emotion piece bringing more validity to the investigation. Secondly, some of these investigations can be time consuming and if it happens to occur during a period of time that our current ACO/Title IX coordinator needs to be focused on paperwork associated with her main role her in RSU #74, then to stay within the timelines outlined for Special Education and these procedures, an independent investigator may be necessary.

There is an item for a new policy for your consideration. Policy ACAAA is policy written to ensure support of students in our schools who identify as transgender or gender expansive. This is not a required policy. The vote of the committee was not unanimous. The ideas presented in this policy do go against personal and religious beliefs of individuals. I brought this forth to the sub-committee for awareness and discussion. This document as written would provide your administrative team and staff with a procedure to follow if a member of the student body was to come forward acknowledging identifying with a gender different from the gender noted at birth. This is one of those policies that would be to ensure the district is not having to explain itself in court(s). The case in Maine (Maines vs Orono) which sided with the family of Nicole Maines, made Orono Schools pay the family $75,000 for failing to allow the student to use the facilities of the gender the student identified with. Again, this is not a required policy and if tabled, turned down, you need to understand, I would recommend we follow the steps outlined here to keep us from having to sit before the Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission or the courts. Additionally, please understand that this policy is not an open door for anyone to connect the ideas presented in this policy to any curricula we offer.

The School Calendar as presented to me did not indicate a date to recognize the New Years’ holiday. January 1 is a Sunday so I believe it is in my rights to identify either the Friday before or the Monday following as the day to recognize the holiday. My reaction was that the calendar did not note the second as the holiday so therefore we would use Friday, December 30, 2022 as holiday. Mr. Ela shared the grumblings of the association members the last time this occurred. If we move the holiday to January 2, we must add a seat day in June. I do not see an issue with this change as area schools are closed January 2nd including the technical center.

The next two require Board votes to exempt us from specific food programs. Both of these programs would have additional costs associated with them. Costs that may outweigh the impact the programs would have for our students. One is the Alternate Breakfast program for after classes begin. All students have access to breakfast upon arrival and if someone comes in late we offer to feed them. High school does offer the second breakfast opportunity in their morning break. The 6-8 grades also offer students a second opportunity to go down. The K-5 grade staff finds that the time to offer this because of the additional support needed for their age groups would take away from learning time. Besides the before school breakfast, students K-5 have a snack/milk break built into their morning. If we are to offer the alternate after bell breakfast, the need to have additional cook staff would need to be considered as the outlying schools have one cook each and this program would be during the time our current staff is preparing lunch. The Federal Child and Adult Care Food Program for after school hours. Although we are currently providing snacks for the after school programs, this is manageable with current staffing. The expectations of this program would need additional time to prepare meals; meals we aren’t sure we would have requests for. We are requesting a motion to opt out of both programs. Our exemption right for the alternative breakfast program is the Board meeting itself would be considered a public hearing for the exemption as outlined in section 2 of LD 359. The afterschool program opt out is simply a vote to opt out.

The last item is the budget timeline for building and adopting of the 2023-2024 fiscal budget for RSU #74. This model very closely aligns with the timeline utilized in the past.

Respectfully submitted,