SAD 1 superintendent anticipates return to a more typical school year

3 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — With masks no longer required for vaccinated students and staff in Maine, SAD 1 Superintendent Ben Greenlaw is expecting the coming school year to more closely resemble those of the pre-COVID-19 days.

During the first non-socially distanced school board meeting in more than a year, Greenlaw outlined current Maine Department of Education guidelines. Although vaccinated students and staff no longer need to wear masks on school grounds, the DOE and Maine CDC are recommending that unvaccinated people continue wearing masks indoors and on school buses.

Greenlaw said that SAD 1 will follow all state mandates and recommendations at the start of the school year. He plans to formulate a return-to-school plan outlining COVID-19-related procedures and present that plan for approval during the August school board meeting.

“I think it’s a wait-and-see situation, as it has been all along,” Greenlaw said. “Right now it’s too early to commit to a specific plan.”

The return-to-school plan is also a requirement for SAD 1 to receive another round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund monies from the American Rescue Plan. The district’s anticipated third round of ESSER funds will total $3.95 million and come with a September 2024 deadline for purchases related to health and safety, technology and addressing student learning gaps.

In other business, Greenlaw announced that SAD 1 will receive an additional $500,000 in state funds. The monies come after the Maine Legislature raised the state’s share of public education funding to 55 percent.

The district will put the additional funds into the 2022-2023 school year budget, Greenlaw said. He cited the current 2021-2022 budget, which keeps school-related property taxes flat, as the reason for investing in the next budget.

A warrant article passed as part of the budget allows SAD 1 to increase school-related expenses, increase the allocation to a reserve fund and/or use the increased state funds to lower the local cost for property taxpayers.

“After meeting with the finance committee, we decided the responsible thing to do would be to apply these funds to the 2022-2023 budget to keep taxes flat [that year],” Greenlaw said.

The next SAD 1 school board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11, in the board conference room at Presque Isle High School.