TOPSHAM — Maine School Administrative District 75 is looking to hire 39 additional staff members in hopes that it will allow the schools to resume full-time in-person learning for kindergarteners through eighth graders in early December.

The open positions, listed on the school district’s Facebook page, include long-term substitute teachers, cooks, van and bus drivers, as well as nine one-year elementary school teaching positions.

According to MSAD 75 Superintendent Shawn Chabot, the district has budgeted $395,000, mostly from the CARES Act, to pay for the positions, but said the final cost will depend on the experience level of those hired. He said annual salaries for teachers in the district range from $40,000 to $75,000, depending on the teacher’s prior experience.

Last month, Chabot told The Times Record the district has received $1.95 million in federal COVID-19 aid and expects more soon. That money needs to be spent by Dec. 30.

Rachelle Tome, MSAD 75 school board chair, said the district needs more staff members in order to adhere to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 guidelines that state all students must remain three feet apart when wearing a face mask, and six feet apart when they’re not wearing a face mask such as when eating.

“In a single classroom, you’re not going to have enough space to teach all the students who would normally be in that classroom,” said Tome. “If we split classrooms, teachers can’t be in two places at once, and that’s the reason for the additional staff. In some classrooms, they might be fine and have enough space, but in other classrooms, the number of students might be too large or the room may be too small to fit all the students.”


Hiring additional staff members is the next step in the district’s “feather-in” approach to bring kindergarteners and first graders back to full-time in-person learning on Dec. 7 from its mixed in-person and online learning plan, said Chabot.

The district would then move incrementally to grades 2-3, then grades 4-5 and finally grades 6-8 as possible. Chabot didn’t provide a specific time period for moving these grades to full in-person learning.

Tome said the district is focusing on getting the youngest students in school first, as they’re the least independent learners and benefit from in-person, hands-on teaching. However, the school’s ultimate goal is to welcome all kindergarten through eighth grade student back to school because “school is most effective when students are back in the classroom with their peers.”

“School brings some sense of normalcy back to students,” said Tome. “Giving them a daily routine is best for the students and their families as well.”

Students in MSAD 75, which serves Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell and Topsham, were split into two groups. Both attend school in-person two days per week and work remotely the other days. Just under 500 students of its roughly 2,600 students — about 20% of the district — have opted for remote-only learning.

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