FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 Business Manager Kris Pottle told directors Tuesday, Dec. 8, that less than 37% of the $38.2 million budget has been spent in the first five months of this fiscal year.

“We’re at 63.43% remaining in our budget, so that’s a positive sign,” Pottle said. “We always want to have more remaining than the number of payrolls we have remaining.”

Pottle calculated the payroll budget has 57.69% remaining.

Pottle explained that the bilingual program has 86.21% of its budget unspent because a full-time teacher position was never filled. RSU 9 has been contracting services as needed for the program.

The district also has yet to fill its vacant speech therapy position and has been contracting services from Presence Learning which requires upfront payment. This has caused a faster than usual depletion with the remaining balance for speech therapy services at 31.33%.

Pottle announced that social services and guidance services would now appear on separate lines for accounting purposes.

The board member compensation budget has 79.28% left, which Pottle said was due to members not being paid yet for committee meetings or mileage reimbursement.

Board member Jesse Sillanpaa of Industry asked if mileage reimbursement was necessary since board meetings have been held via Zoom.

“Is that something we have to be paid for, because I don’t think any of us have been driving to any meetings,” he asked. 

“Legally, we don’t have to pay any board members for mileage, that’s our policy or board’s request,” Pottle said. “Individually, board members have put in writing via email or just in written paper form that they’re requesting not to be reimbursed for mileage, so we would reimburse for mileage unless that request was made not to.” 

In other business, the board approved the Maine Principals Association’s revised dates for moderate risk sports, which applies to RSU 9 basketball and competitive cheering.

The permissible dates for level one practice, which consists of individual drills and skills, is now Dec. 7-31. Intersquad scrimmaging will be permissible starting Jan. 4.

Regional competitions for all sports will be permitted starting Jan. 11.

Athletics Director Chad Brackett informed the board there is a virtual opportunity for the cheering team to compete in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and state championships. The team will be videoed and their recording will be submitted to judges.

Alpine and Nordic skiers will also have the opportunity to participate in KVAC and the Mountain Valley Conference in March at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington and Black Mountain in Rumford.

The board also approved waiving physicals for a year for sport participation. This was in response to minimizing student contact in hospitals and doctors’ offices during the pandemic.

To further accommodate student athletes during the pandemic, the board also approved temporary adjustments to eligibility requirements. Eligibility will now be based on quarter two grades, and students will have until Jan. 15 to raise their course scores to 60 or above.

During public comment, math specialist Victoria Cohen asked the board to consider a team approach to fill the interim superintendent position to replace Tina Meserve who will resign by Dec. 31.

“I am urging you to think about a kind of different idea which is a team rather than one person; some administrators, some teachers, maybe some parents,” Cohen said. “The idea being, the tunnel of communication between superintendent and board needs to stay as wide as possible and having a team would widen the tunnel.”

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