SAD 4 directors approve $7.4M 2020-21 budget  

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GUILFORD — The SAD 4 school board gave approval to a 2020-21 budget totaling $7,397,862 during a May 12 meeting conducted remotely. The directors also scheduled the district budget meeting for Thursday, June 25 — time to be announced at Piscataquis Community Elementary School. The total approved that evening will then be moved to a referendum for a “yes” or “no” vote on Tuesday, July 14 in the district member towns of Abbot, Cambridge, Guilford, Parkman, Sangerville and Wellington.


The near $7.4 million total proposed for the 2020-21 academic year represents an increase of about $283,000 from the current year’s figure of $7,174,825.


The 2021 budget includes a local assessment of $3,815,943 for the half dozen communities, a figure that is down by approximately $142,000 from the current combined $3,957,885 assessment. Individual town assessments are based on valuation numbers.


A sum of nearly $48,000 in the 2020-21 SAD 4 budget is earmarked for the district’s share of the Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative costs (PVAEC). The $411,180 is split proportionally between the PVAEC member districts. 


The school board approved the PVAEC costs as well as authorizing the hiring of two positions, one to be funded in the 2021 budget and the other with grant funds. A social worker position will be in the budget and a district literacy coach would be funded by anticipated federal CARES Act monies for 2020-21 and possibly a portion of the school year after that. The CARES Act provides assistance for various forms of COVID-19 pandemic relief.


“The social worker is in the budget, the literacy coach is not,” Board Chair Niki Fortier said. “We are not hiring the literacy coach if we are not getting the money.”


When asked about why the district is looking to hire a social worker and district literacy coach at this time, Superintendent Kelly MacFadyen said, “We have so many children in trauma and with social emotional issues. The social worker can work with children and their families.”


She explained that district staff have been helping the best they can, but a social worker can perform these duties full time and assist the families with accessing resources such as food, housing and other social services.


“We know that having done remote learning, it’s going to impact the learning of our students,” MacFadyen said. “There’s going to be some fall back and there will be a need to assess kids when they come back.”


The literacy coach would work to help students make up lost ground from the spring. Fortier said pupil struggles during remote learning would most likely not be a reason for anyone to be held back a grade.


She said this was mostly known back in mid-March as teachers and administrators “know who was going to go forward and who was not going to go forward.”


The board also approved the transfer of PCES Assistant Principal Jessica Dunton from the elementary institution to PCHS for the fall when grades 7-8 move across campus to the current grade 9-12 building. Dunton will remain as SAD 4 technology director. 

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