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Near $1.36M AOS 43 budget vote set for June 20 meeting

MILO — More than a dozen years ago SAD 41 formed an Alternative Organizational Structure 43 with SAD 31 of the Howland area. Under the AOS the neighboring school districts share a superintendent and assistant superintendent/director of curriculum as well as some services such as for special education and the business office. Costs are split 50/50 between the two.

In addition to voting on their own respective school budgets, residents of the eight communities between SAD 41 and 31 make a decision on the shared AOS 43 budget. The 2024-25 AOS annual budget meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, with a 5:45 p.m. information session, at the Marion C. Cook School in LaGrange.

During a school board meeting on June 5, Chair Mary Lynn Kazayaka reminded attendees about the June 20 meeting.

She said the AOS 43 meeting on May 30 got a bit heated. Kazyaka said a board member from SAD 31 mentioned a proposed $117,000 cut to system administration and encouraged SAD 41 voters to oppose such a reduction.

“We want to have as many registered voters from SAD 41 be there as we can,” Kazyaka said, to vote against any such article amendments.

“I just wanted to say the Howland vote is based on misinformation they were getting,” Board member Roberta Trefts said.

“We would appreciate it if you brought all your friends as well if they are registered voters,” Kazyaka said, mentioning that all the budget documents are posted online (https://www.aos43.com/documents).

On June 20, meeting attendees will have five articles making up a proposed $1,358,881 2024-25 AOS 43 budget. The figure is made up of approximately $944,500 for system administration (including approximately $475,000 for the superintendent’s office and $351,000 for central services), nearly $390,000 for special education administration, and $24,900 for facilities maintenance.

The total 2024-25 AOS 43 budget is up by $155,232 from the sum of just over $1.2 million for the current academic year.

The superintendent’s office portion of the spending plan is up by $76,652 while central services would see a $52,571 increase. Special ed is up by about $6,900.

In other business, SAD 41 officials heard from Milo Elementary Principal Carol Smith and several teachers about the ForMe program for kindergarten and grade 1 which will expand to pre-K and grade 2 next year.

Under ForMe students take part in four units on topics such as their community and animal and habitat and they work on reading, vocabulary, writing, literacy, and more.

“We have our read alouds, during this time we read a text that is related to our unit question,” kindergarten teacher Nycole McEwen said. She said “how do animals change and grow over time?” was such a question and each week students added newly-learned information to a chart.

McEwen said one student wrote about tadpoles swimming in the water and growing legs. Other projects included making replica owl nests and owl-inspired  artwork.

Reading a conclusion from the presentation McEwen said, “The overall flow of these lessons are engaging, hands on, and just what our students need. It integrates reading, writing, science, social studies, art, music, and more. The books and topics we are diving into are used throughout the day and help us build our knowledge. Our classrooms this year have an amazing vocabulary that they are using in the classroom and picking out in other books. They know words like collaborate and that’s what they are doing in kindergarten — collaborating. They know if they need something, that they can make and create it. The imagination and problem solving that we are seeing is extraordinary.”

She added she is excited to see where ForMe goes for pre-K and grade 2 in the fall.

Three retiring employees were recognized at the school board meeting, Penquis Valley High School ed tech Allen Munroe, Milo Elementary teacher Ivy Stanchfield, and Hazel Durant of food service. Munroe and Stanchfield were both present to receive congratulatory plaques and plenty of words of congratulations. Munroe has been in SAD 41 since 1996 and Stanchfield since 1987.

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