At the School Administrative District 74 board of directors meeting Wednesday, Superintendent Mike Tracy said the schools system will go fully in-person in the fall. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

Students within the Carrabec school district will be returning to full-time, in-person learning next fall.

“What we’re looking at is to resume the daily schedule, Monday through Friday, with no remote learning options,” Regional School Unit 74 Superintendent Mike Tracy told the board of directors. “RSU 74 is going back to school.”

Tracy told the board Wednesday that he’s worked with administrators to come up with two plans for opening schools in the fall. Both of them call for 100% in-person learning, eliminating the remote and hybrid options that the district is currently operating under.

The backup plan would be in place if the COVID-19 mandates that schools must follow are not adjusted. This would call for the creation of five additional classrooms across the schools as well as five additional teachers. Administrators have located spaces that exist within the schools currently and will utilize CARES Act 2 funding to convert the spaces into classrooms.

“Maine (Center for Disease Control & Prevention) and the Department of Education have been great to work with. I’m working with others to say ‘is there a way that we can change the requirements to recommendations, and if not, can we look at physical distancing?” Tracy said. He then suggested changing the 3-foot distancing mandate to 2.5 feet, which would allow second-graders in the district to all be in class at the same time.

“We know the incidents of transmission is very, very low. Can we put those kids 2.5 feet apart so we can have all of them in class?” Tracy said, “It’s been my commitment to reopen 100% full time, five days a week, full schedules, starting as soon as we open in the fall.”

In February, Tracy urged the state’s leadership to reconsider social distancing requirements in an effort to get more students back into the classroom full time.

Citing several factors that exist within his district, as well as others across the state and country, including the uptick in the number of people affected by drug abuse, food insecurity, mental health and domestic violence, Tracy said that keeping students home is a major concern.

“Those incidences are happening in the homes, and yet at the same time, we’re not allowed to take the kids out of the homes and have them in the safe space of the school, where we also know there are less instances of (community) transmission,” Tracy has previously said.

END OF YEAR CELEBRATIONS

Carrabec High School Principal Timothy Richards said that prom and graduation as well as other end-of-year activities are a go this year, barring any changes to COVID-19 guidelines.

Graduation will take place in the high school’s gymnasium, and each student will be allotted up to six guests. Different from previous years, students will not be able to exchange tickets as family sizes have to be monitored. The event will be livestreamed.

“We must keep family units as a pod, so students can’t give away tickets. We’re doing the best we can and being as gracious as we can with families,” Richards said.

Eighth grade graduation at Carrabec Community School is also set, Principal Keith Mahoney said.

SCHOOL BUDGET

The board of directors passed a $10,423,207 budget for the 2021-2022 school year, up about $50,000, or 0.49%, from the current school year’s budget. All but one of the board members in attendance approved of the motion. Ellen McQuiston was the sole vote against. The budget still needs approval from voters within the district.

“I want to know how our budget addresses the needs of students so that they are not going to be disadvantaged relative to their peers if they advance in the future,” McQuiston said.

Due to the use of federal monies for items that would typically come from local or state costs, Tracy said that this difference allowed for a greater carryover than previous years.

With that, the board approved a $125,000 allocation from this “unassigned carryover” to be placed into a capital reserve fund to be earmarked for certain items, such as a new roof for one of the schools. The district received an estimated cost of at least $300,000 to replace the roof at Carrabec Community School.

“We’re really in a good position with the budget,” Tracy told the board Wednesday. “I think we’ve done a good job to get where we’re at.”

Looking at expenditures, Tracy said that a physical education teacher position has increased to a full-time position and the athletic directors position has been restored to a part-time position. The athletic director will serve grades six through 12 and manages cocurricular after school activities.

Through a retirement, the district is able to eliminate a technology teaching position as well as a middle school/high school position.

“We were able to reduce a special education Out of District Placement Fee, and some capital expenses in one of our elementary schools,” Tracy said.

The district includes four schools: Solon Elementary, Garret Schenck School in Anson, Carrabec Community School and Carrabec High School in North Anson. The district serves students in Anson, Embden, New Portland, North Anson and Solon.

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