The RSU 78 School Board has chosen Chris Downing as the new Superintendent of the district beginning July 1, 2019. Downing will be part-time in Rangeley and continue as part-time in RSU 20 in Searsport. He is replacing William Richards (Dr. Bill) who will be retiring at the end of the school year.

Other administrators for next year will be Georgia Campbell as Principal, Seth Laliberte as Building Administrator, and Heidi Deery as Director of Student Services.

At the April board meeting, the proposed budget for the 2019-20 school year was approved. The total budget is $4,628,436, a 6% increase over last year’s budget. One major part of the increase is funding for a Pre-K program, which accounts for 2.4% of the increase. Additional increases are for contracted salaries (2.5%) and new positions other than Pre-K (1.1%).

The Pre-K program, while new to Rangeley, is widespread throughout the state. In fact, this district is the only one in Franklin County without  Pre-K. The most significant impact of this program will be on the district’s at-risk children. Recent kindergarten enrollment ( assessment ) data indicates that as much as 60% of our kindergarten students are at-risk . Studies have shown that at-risk students who are introduced to Pre-K are significantly more prepared for kindergarten, have fewer behavioral problems and less absences. With a Pre-K program in place, our students will have an academic benefit that will persist throughout their education.

The budget approval process now goes to the voters. On Tuesday, June 4 at 6 pm in the school’s gymnasium, the budget will be presented and each warrant article must be approved at that meeting. Typically, not many voters come to this meeting and the board urges anyone who is a registered voter in the RSU 78 towns (Rangeley, Rangeley Plantation, Dallas Plantation, Sandy River Plantation, and Magalloway) to come to this meeting. This is the public’s chance to comment on the budget and proposed expenditures for next year. At the conclusion, the entire budget amount is finalized. The following week on Tuesday, June 11, polls will be open in all member communities to have a second vote on the budget. This second vote is mandated by state law. At the polls, voters will vote either up or down on the entire budget without input on the individual warrant articles.

Finally, the school calendar for next year was approved. Teachers will begin on Monday, August 26 with two workshop days and classes will begin on Wednesday, August 28.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 14 at 6 pm in the multi-purpose room at the school.