STRONG — The SAD 58 school board has listened to community concerns and feedback on specific challenges to the future of the district and will hold a public meeting in February on its findings.

School board members, parents, teachers, staff and residents of Avon, Phillips, Kingfield and Strong gathered this fall to discuss the impact of declining enrollment and financial requirements to support three elementary schools and a high school. Superintendent Susan Pratt said about 100 people provided a wide range of ideas and opinions for the future of the school system.

The board agreed Thursday to convene a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at Mt. Abram High School to discuss what they’ve gleaned from four public meetings this fall and ways to move forward.

In other matters, Amy Chasse, a certified public accountant and partner at South Portland-based Runyon Kersteen Ouellette, provided the annual review of the district’s financial health and ways to streamline or make the accounting process more efficient and accurate. Each year, she selects a category to examine in more detail, and this year, she suggested changes in the school lunch program records to produce more accurate reporting in 2019-20.

The district’s balance total is satisfactory and the overall financial picture is stable, Chasse said. 

Pratt reviewed the Maine Department of Education’s new rating system, which will be different from past years’ reporting. Although she did not yet have all of the district data, she said understanding the new reporting system will be a challenge.

The board approved Pratt’s recommendations for three-year contracts for summer grounds maintenance and winter plowing contracts. The three-year commitment was a way to ensure the board had a confirmed figure for budgeting, she said.

Sunrise Lawn Care will do the mowing and related summer care at all four schools for $41,250. Peter Lily will plow Phillips Elementary School for $39,000. Chase Logging & Snowplowing will plow Strong Elementary School for $43,500. Fenwick Construction will plow Mt. Abram High School for $43,500 and Kingfield Elementary School for $34,500. The winter work includes sanding, bucket loading and related winter work. All bidders have been screened for required insurance, references and adequate equipment to do the work.

The district has launched a SAD 58 Facebook page, which will post updates about school closures, meeting dates and locations, and school and athletic schedules.

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