Classes underway in SAD 4

GUILFORD — Several weeks into classes, SAD 4 directors heard more about the start of the 2022-23 academic year during a board meeting at Piscataquis Community Elementary School on Sept. 13.

“We had, I think, a pretty decent start to our school year,” Piscataquis Community Secondary School Principal John Keane said, saying there are a number of new students and staff members.

Keane said the biggest challenge so far has been a lack of a physical education teacher, with the person in the position resigning shortly after classes started. He said Zac Wilson has been substituting and several applications for the position have been received so far.

Superintendent Kelly MacFadyen said school districts across the state and country have been dealing with a teacher shortage and trying to fill open positions. 

“We’re not alone in that,” she said.

MacFadyen said that outside the box thinking will be needed, while districts are working with the Maine Department of Education to help less traditional candidates meet teaching requirements.

Keane said new Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Andrew Shorey has been a great addition. “He’s organized, he’s great with the kids, and an asset to the school,” Keane said.

The homecoming schedule is being finalized with events planned for Friday, Sept. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 1. On Friday there will be a school pep rally, an evening parade and then the boys soccer team will play under the lights.

Saturday the Pirate field hockey team plays at 1 p.m., and the athletic hall of fame ceremony will be at 3 p.m. The girls soccer team will then play its homecoming game, followed by a bonfire and dance.

In other business, District Nurse Wendy Viera said there are new COVID-19 guidelines in place for Maine schools in 2022-23. These include no contact tracing, coming back to school after five days with a negative test, and students being able to test at school with parental permission.

Viera said the secondary school has had more cases among students and staff compared to the elementary school, including eight staff members being out recently. 

Board Chairperson Niki Fortier said it has been fortunate that PCSS has not needed to go to remote learning due to a lack of staff, mentioning this has been the case in the Milo-based SAD 41.

MacFadyen said the PCES HVAC project has experienced delays due to the nationwide supply chain issues. 

She said by next month all units should be available for installation and testing and the system could be commissioned if ready. In November operational testing would be conducted and by December everything could be complete.

The superintendent said with ceilings taken down for the HVAC system prior to the start of classes, LED lighting and dimmers have been installed. 

“There should be a cost savings with that,” MacFadyen said.

She said PCES staff only had three days to get their rooms ready before the first day of classes, and she appreciates their patience and professionalism.

PCSS is in good shape now, MacFadyen said. She said the district will learn the status of the comprehensive regional high school project before embarking on any long-term initiatives with the building.

“We have not had a regional school committee meeting for a bit, so hopefully now that school’s back in session, we will get back,” Fortier said. MacFadyen said she should hear soon about the next meeting for this endeavor between SAD 4 and three neighboring school districts.

MacFadyen said Gordon Contracting paved the track last month as part of a series of projects on the athletic facility. 

“They redid the soccer field, reseeded it and leveled the track and also agreed to pave the track,” she said.

Gordon Contracting donated the work to SAD 4 last year, but ran out of time to complete everything. MacFadyen said coincidentally the paving was done the day of an evening celebration of life for the late Athletic Director Joe Gallant.

“That was his project so it was very fitting that all happened on the same day,” MacFadyen said.

She said that not all of the school board members had heard that Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative Director Carolyn Haskell resigned at the end of June after two years.

“We were very fortunate to hire Josh McNaughton as director,” MacFadyen said. “Because of his experience it was easy for him to step in and take over that role.

She said he previously served as superintendent in Millinocket and has a background in adult education. Living in Dover-Foxcroft and with school-aged children, McNaughton wanted a job closer to home to allow him more time with his family.

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