Dear RSU #57 Community (Mustang Nation),
I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying summer activities. I would like to take a moment and update you on a few things that have been going on in the district since the end of the school year. Our 2020 graduation was held on campus in a unique “drive-in” setting. It was great to see the level of support for all the graduates and interesting to see how students and family personalized the experience with their means of transportation. The high school staff and administration are to be commended for supporting and organizing a memorable ceremony for our students.
Our administrative team has been discussing our options for opening school in the fall. Currently they are taking a few days off to rejuvenate and enjoy some downtime. The team will convene in mid-July and begin finalizing the details of a return to school plan for the fall. At this time there are restrictions that will prohibit the return of all students to a building daily, exclusive of a vaccine for the COVID-19. Two of the conditions we are working with include:
Busing - The CDC guidelines include maintaining a distance of 6 feet on the bus which reduces our capacity significantly. Our regular daily bus run includes 38 buses and is established in 2 tiers (elementary and middle/high school) with an average of 44 students per bus. The distance guideline reduces the capacity to 12-13 students on our largest buses. This detail will limit the number of students the district can transport in our current structure to approximately 30% capacity.
Classrooms - The capacity of our buildings are reduced due to the current distancing guidelines as well. Our administrators have measured each room’s capacity in their building using a guideline of 6 foot spacing for individuals in the room. Our available space is limited to 8 - 12 individuals depending on the room size. This detail will reduce daily capacity to estimated capacity of less than 40%, with some rooms well below this average. The estimates provided are at the highest level.
We plan to conduct another survey for parents in late summer to update your intentions for returning your children to a school-based location in the fall, as well as, specifics regarding transportation. We will share additional information on how we intend to meet the educational needs of students in the upcoming school year.
Open Meal Sites at Line & MMS will remain open for meal pick up on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays until further notice.
Open Meal Sites will be closed on Friday, July 3rd to observe the 4th of July holiday.
Watch for a separate update from Food Service with details of the summer menu.
Budget Vote - July 14
Budget Referendum - (3 items) The RSU 57 budget will be voted on by the public on July 14th at your local polling place. We encourage you to take time to vote.
The budget information brochure has been sent out and you should be receiving it soon. The brochure includes a summary of the cost centers, comparison of expenditures, and local impact on assessments. You can also find additional details of the budget on our website.
Adult Education - The Adult Education budget is an annual stand alone item.
Bond - The referendum ballot for July 14, 2020 includes a question as to whether voters want to approve RSU #57 obtaining an interest free loan through the State of Maine School Revolving Renovation Fund Program. The $370,068 loan would be paid over 10 years with no interest (annual district payments of $37,007) and the state will also forgive an additional $273,528 for a total project cost of $643,596. The projects include putting additional security doors and containment areas in each school’s entrance vestibule to prevent visitors from being able to enter the classroom wings without front office approval. These security measures have been an item the Transportation/Security Committee of the School Board have wanted to do for many years based on security reviews and information from the public. These projects have been put on hold due to the lack of additional funding. The RSU applied for state funding in September and was awarded and Board approved in January. This is a great opportunity to receive state funding for approximately 42.5% of the total project costs and address this safety concern in our buildings.
Finally, the times we are facing in our country are challenging and reach well beyond the issue of a pandemic. Current protests across the country speak to the topic of anti-racism. Although RSU #57 works to ensure diverse acceptance and representation throughout the organization, it is important that we continue our intentional review of policies, practices and curriculum as it relates to this important issue. Please know that we plan to elevate our awareness and performance on this topic.
I want to wish you a happy and safe Fourth of July.