January 29, 2024


To:  RSU #74 Board of Directors


From:  Mark Campbell, Superintendent of Schools


Re:  February 2024 Board Report


I jinxed myself.  In my monthly report to the residents of New Portland I shared the days had been quiet since returning from the holidays.  I can share that I can no longer say that!


Budget season is officially underway.  I have met with the building principals to review their budgets.  Grade 6 -12 math teachers will be seeking a more traditional math program to purchase with the intent to implement it in the fall of 2024.  Grades 6-8 Science teachers are also looking to update their resources.  I haven’t seen the books from 6 or 8 but know the 7th grade books are from 2004-2005! I have also met with Scott on the Technology Budget.  As he reported to the Library/Technology  subcommittee his line reflects going into year two of his 5-year plan and will be replacing laptops for the teaching staff next year.  Basically, the same number of machines; but we received a welcomed surprise as we put his 5-year plan into action last year as the State expanded the MLTI project to include grade 5 so those laptops were purchased by the State.  Since that meeting, Mr. Hall has added Hotspots into his budget as these are necessary for us to do remote learning days, and we will not have COVID funds to pay for them going forward. 


I will inform the Board that we put a claim into our insurance due to the losses endured as a result of the extended power outage in North Anson.  First, despite moving a lot of our frozen food to Madison, we still lost a significant amount of perishable food items such as our fruit and milk for that week.  We also had similar losses in Anson and Solon with those losses due to expiration dates.  Secondly, the batteries that control the sprinkler system ran down resulting in a malfunction of the system causing our dry system to fill with water.  While temperatures were warm during the Christmas break itself, freezing temperatures from New Years on caused pipes that are not normally filled with water to freeze in some parts of the building.  The repair company was on site multiple days doing repairs.  We are waiting for reimbursement at this time.


On Friday, January 26, the Anson Fire Department was called to Garret Schenck as the janitor noted a hot smell coming from the pellet room somewhere between 3:30 p.m and 4:00 p.m.  When she opened the door, there was smoke.  Once on the scene, the Firemen noted there was no fire but that one of the pumps which pushed pellets from the storage bin towards the burner was extremely hot (260 degrees when I arrived) and was leaking fluid.  The firemen unplugged the pump and shut off the main switch to the burner.  While there, firemen also shut down the oil burner.  One of our maintenance personnel showed up and stayed on scene to make sure the oil burner would kick on when there was demand.  He also went back the following morning to check on the status of the oil furnace.  We are waiting for Mechanical Services to come and assess the pellet boiler pumps.


Some good news!  I received an email from Cheryl Brackett, MDOE School Transportation, stating we received approval to pursue two bus purchases in our 2024-2025 budget.  We asked for permission to buy one outright and another to do a lease payment.  A reminder that this does not commit us to having to buy both but the option is there if we feel that we can pass a budget with the 2 bus request.


You will see there is an appointment of a long-term teacher for CCS.  There will be two additional appointments during February as well; one for Anson and the other will be an assignment in Solon Elementary.  The salary portion of the budget is being significantly impacted due to the number of staff being out on FMLA.  We are at 3 with this one.


We currently have a Policy Committee meeting and a Finance Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday, February 14.  I would like to reschedule these two meetings for Wednesday, February 21.  Policy will be at 4:30 and Finance at 6.  These meetings will be in the CCS Library.


A reminder that we will have a presentation from the Auditors on our 2023 Financials and that this portion of our meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.


Resignations/Appointments/Nominations


I have received two resignations since our January meeting.  Robert Greene submitted his 30-day notice as Director of Operations.  The Buildings, Grounds, and Transportation subcommittee met to review the posting notice which went out last Friday.   The second resignation was from John Tierney who was working previously in Special Education and had agreed to move into the Alternative Education teacher position.  He has requested to return to his role in Special Education.  I wish to thank both of these gentlemen for their service in the roles they have held and wish them well going forward.


I have awarded Shannon Richards a long-term substitute position for grade 5 at CCS.  Shannon is a senior at the University of Maine Farmington and is doing this work in lieu of student teaching.  Miss Richards came with high recommendations from her professors and the classroom teachers she has done practicum work with.


Action Items:


Item #6:  We are asking for your approval of the 2024-2025 school calendar.  This calendar does have minor changes from the current school year calendar.  We have taken the entire week at Thanksgiving the prior two years (and maybe longer) but our teachers felt this was unnecessary as Christmas vacation is not that far away.  This calendar has staff and students coming on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week which works nicely with how the new year falls.  Rather than come in for two days after New Years, we will take two full weeks off at Christmas.  This calendar is not entirely in sync with SCTC but we remain within the limit expected by the State. 


Item #7: Second Readings:


Item #8:  First reading of Policy ADA - School District Goals and Objectives - the policy committee recommended a minor change to reflect the need for both long-term and short-term goals to meet the needs of the district while maintaining fiscal responsibilities.


Item #9:  First reading of Policy ADC - Tobacco-Free Schools:  Use and Possession of Tobacco and Electronic Devices - the Policy Committee is recommending a complete rewrite of this policy to reflect State Statute around schools and school grounds being a smoke free zone.


Item #10:  First reading of Policy ACAD - Hazing - the Policy Committee is sending this to the full Board without changes.


Item #11:  First reading of Policy AD - Educational Philosophy/Mission - the Policy Committee is sending this to the full Board without changes.


Item #12:  First reading of Policy ADAA - School System Commitment to Standards for Ethical and Responsible Behavior - the Policy Committee is sending this to the full Board without changes.


Item #13:  First reading of Policy ADF - School District Commitment to Learning Results - the Policy Committee is sending this to the full Board without changes.


Item #14:  First reading for the removal of Procedure ADC-R - the Policy committee has opted to adopt the new wording for Policy ADC which encompasses the wording in the administrative procedure for Policy ADC feeling this would be repetitive and lead to the possibility of conflict between documents.


Item #15:  The high school administration and staff are looking to do a field trip to Boston for the Class of 2024 and the Class of 2025.  These two classes did not have the opportunity to do this trip during the COVID years.  The funding for this two day trip is coming from COVID funds.  If he does not address this further in his Board Report, Mr. Campbell will be available to answer questions at the meeting.


Item #16:  The item is asking the Board to vote to not participate in the After School Nutrition Program (CACFP).  The vote not to participate is required as without the vote it has the potential to impact other parts of the school meal programs.  This portion of the school meal program, if we ran it, would run in the red.  We would have to pay staff to be here after hours and it is felt the number of students who would take advantage of this would be minimal.  The participation or lack thereof is based on the low participation in the summer.  We do however have snacks put together by cafeteria staff during their normal workday for our students who stay for the after school programs.  These snacks, as well as the program itself are paid out of COVID funds. 


Item #17:  This executive session will be held so we can discuss administrative salaries for the 2024-2025 school year.


Item #18:  Is a vote to set salaries and length of contract terms for the administration.