SAD 41 officials planning for 2020-21   

MILO — With the current school year winding down, SAD 41 officials are in the midst of planning for 2020-21 despite the uncertainty of how instruction will be carried out and what the budget may look like.


“We just don’t know yet what the fall will bring, we need to be ready for remote learning or some kind of in-person learning if at all possible,” Superintendent Michael Wright said during a June 3 meeting conducted via Zoom. The Maine Department of Education is planning to release protocols for Maine districts prior to the start of classes around the state at the end of the summer.


Wright said he is also awaiting budget numbers from the state as the school board is developing the spending plan for 2020-21. At the May meeting the superintendent said he believed there would be a shortfall in education funding as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Maine perhaps to be among the worst-hit states due to the high dependence of the economy on the tourism industry.


SAD 41 officials are also awaiting updates on how to potentially conduct the annual district budget meeting. At this session residents of Brownville, LaGrange and Milo gather to vote on articles making up the proposed budget and the figure approved that evening is then moved to a referendum vote for a final “yes” or “no” decision.


“If we had 50 people that would be a problem,” Wright said about the gathering capacity figure, saying this issue will likely come up elsewhere in Maine. Over the last decade-plus SAD 41 district budget meetings have drawn between a dozen and two dozen attendees.


One possibility raised is to permit school districts to conduct district budget meetings electronically, such as over Zoom.


“We are awaiting some direction to move forward on that,” Wright said about gaining clarity for the process. When asked, he said the plan is to have the district budget meeting in time for the referendum to be held on Tuesday, July 14 when voters will be heading to the polls for the state primary.


Wright also took the opportunity to mention the “real tragic loss of Michelle Zambrano, our school nurse” who passed away the week prior after having worked in SAD 41 for the last decade-plus.


“Michelle will be greatly missed, it’s just a tragic loss at so many levels,” he said. Wright said the spring had already been especially tough for the district communities with the pandemic and remote learning as well as the unexpected death of Milo Town Manager/Police Chief Damien Pickel.


In other business, Curriculum Coordinator/Assistant Superintendent Darcie Fournier said public feedback is being sought on the Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) update and Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA or Title grants) application.


“Basically the CNA helps guide our goal setting for Title I funding,” Fournier said. She said more information pertaining to the three district schools is available at


“If you have ideas, feedback you would like to share on CNA or ESEA that feedback would be accepted through mid-July, so let me know if you would like to share,” Fournier said. She can be reached at

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