SKOWHEGAN — When looking at the upcoming school year, rising superintendent Jon Moody said that Maine School Administrative District 54 is trying “not to make assumptions, but plan for scenarios.”

The school board decided on Thursday evening to move forward with the school bond for renovations at Skowhegan Area High School, which is aimed at rebuilding the track and soccer field, improving the lobby bathroom and replacing auditorium seating. Morning Sentinel file photo

“We’re looking at a situation where all students would be back, which is ideal,” Moody said on Friday. “If we are not able to start the school year in person, that would be different for teachers and students.

“We were all students. We remember what it’s like to have those first days and building those relationships with teachers. We want to have kids in school in-person working to the greatest extent possible. We recognize that we’re going to have to have virtual options for kiddos who are not able to be in school.”

Looking at summer school options, Moody said that schools are able to host summer school under very tight restrictions. He said that the district is planning to offer in-person programming for those who need 1-to-1 assistance and other services, such as credit recovery for seniors. Title I and 21st century grant programming will be offered virtually.

Students will begin their summer vacation on June 5, the assistant superintendent said Thursday evening.

In other matters, Superintendent Brent Colbry provided an update on the school budget. For now, he said, the district is waiting for direction from the state on how to move forward with school budget planning.

“We are working though,” Colbry said. “Our goal is to develop a finalized budget within the next two weeks.”

When looking at the new school project, Colbry said that the district is awaiting the results of a property assessment of acreage behind Skowhegan Area High School to determine whether or not the site would be a viable option for a potential new school. As of now, nothing has been set in stone.

“The Department of Education is looking at whether we should decide if it can be a viable site,” he said. About 60 to 80 acres lie behind the high school, he added.

“We’ve hired a firm to go in and do soil tests and look at the vernal pools and all of that stuff,” Colbry said. “We think that by next week, they will issue a report to say whether or not the property is viable for some kind of construction.”

Regardless of what the results say, Colbry said it does not necessarily mean that the new school would go there; it would just mean that it is an option to consider.

“It’s really early planning,” he said. “We’re just trying to narrow our options.”

Additionally, the board decided on Thursday evening to move forward with the school bond for renovations at Skowhegan Area High School, which is aimed at rebuilding the track and soccer field, improving the lobby bathroom and replacing auditorium seating.

“We were concerned, given the economy, that we should wait on this project,” Colbry said. “I haven’t seen anything negative, so we’re moving forward. The history of this community is that everyone is generally supportive of what we’re doing to improve the quality, safety, health, accessibility and inefficiencies at the schools.”

The high school track, which has previously hosted track meets and regional Special Olympics events, has not been used in recent years because of its current condition. The renovations would include replacing the track and maintaining the current field.

Improvements to the soccer field include adding an irrigation system to save on long-term labor costs.

MSAD 54 serves the communities of Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock, Smithfield and Skowhegan.

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