SAD 20 discusses transportation and online learning at April meeting

2 years ago

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — The Fort Fairfield school board discussed the continuation of online learning after COVID-19 and received an update on the district’s fleet of school buses when it met on April 12. 

Fort Fairfield wants to offer online courses next year, with several teachers volunteering to pilot the program. Online courses would be taught over Google Classroom, which is a familiar platform to teachers and students.

These courses are especially helpful to students enrolled in the tech program who are gone for half of the day, allowing them to still take the courses without worrying too much about scheduling.

The plan is to have the online courses run on the same timeframe as regular courses, adhering to the same add/drop period. During the first couple of years, teachers will continue to gather students feedback to see what works with the program, and see what can be changed. While there will be a small variety of courses at the beginning, ranging from math courses to English to senior exhibitions, the district has entertained the possibility of expanding into more courses if the first year is successful. 

The bus fleet for Fort Fairfield is in good shape. The district currently has eight buses, most of which are new. The average age on the buses is 3.75 years. In August, the district plans to remove one of the older buses and replace it with a newer one, bringing the average age of the district’s fleet down to 2.4 years old. The buses can be used for 10 years or 150,000 miles. 

The average mileage for all the buses in the fleet is just under 60,000. Two buses in the district have mileage that is more than 100,000, and when they are replaced, the average mileage will drop substantially. 

The district has applicants putting in for their commercial drivers licenses next week. The board briefly talked about the possibility of having an electric bus in the future, but there have been no decisions made yet. 

The school board looked at some of the second round of senior exhibition projects, which constitute one of the final checkpoints for graduating seniors. They start by picking any topic they find interesting, and finding a mentor outside of the school to help them learn more about their topic of interest. 

This culminates in the student creating a product around their topic, which can take the form of a lesson plan or a crafted physical product. The students receive their final grade after giving 20-minute presentations on their topics to a panel of five judges. 

The elementary school celebrated Incredible Kids Day, where each student receives a letter from a faculty member in the building, highlighting a quality or trait appreciated about that student. Prizes were also given out to students throughout the school, and students ate whoopie pies as a snack. The school was also able to hold its first in-person assembly since COVID-19 began.

According to SAD 20 Superintendent Tim Doak, the student count for the district is slowly declining due to several factors. Aroostook County has an aging population, and there aren’t enough people moving into The County to raise the student count. 

The district will also continue to monitor the Maine Medical Center and Anthem conflict, and may need to look at new insurance options to make sure staff has proper coverage. 

The school board plans to hold a budget meeting either at the end of May or early June.

The meeting closed with the school board approving the renewal of contracts for several faculty members in the district, and adjourned shortly thereafter.