SABATTUS — Regional School Unit 4 directors voted 8-0 Wednesday to create a collaborative planning team to recommend policies related to COVID-19 to directors.

Previously, the team was a working committee overseen by Superintendent Andrew Carlton, as recommended by the Maine Department of Education for reopening schools. Carlton said he wished to establish it as a board advisory committee, which would be dissolved when no longer needed.

The team will be comprised of 15 voting members, one board member, and the superintendent. Of the 15 voting members, six will be parents, with two from each town; five will be staff appointed by the RSU 4 Education Association, with one representative from each of the district’s five schools; one will be a high school student appointed by the high school principal; one will be a building administrator; one will be a nurse appointed by the superintendent; and another will be Director of Curricular Assessment and Instruction Kathy Martin.

Parents interested in serving on the team should contact the superintendent. Ultimately, the board will interview and select the six parent representatives.

Originally, the team was only to have three staff members. However, directors added two additional positions for staff members at the request of Heather Libby, co-president of the RSU 4 Education Association and a teacher at Sabattus Primary School.

The board agreed that team representatives should have one-year terms that end Oct. 30 and meetings should be held at least once a month.


Directors voted 8-0 to increase the pay for substitute teachers and nurses. Carlton said he surveyed other nearby districts and found RSU 4’s rates were below average.

Previously, the district was paying noncertified substitutes $85, certified substitutes $90, and registered nurse substitutes $120 per day. Now, it will pay $100 for noncertified substitutes, $110 for certified substitutes, and $135 for registered nurse substitutes.

Sabattus Director Jennifer Waterman shared the results of the late release/early start survey distributed to students, staff and parents. A total of 61% of the 762 respondents said they would prefer to change to early release on Wednesdays, rather than continue starting school late.

Waterman said the Curricular Assessment and Instruction/Technology Committee would consult with multiple stakeholders and will bring a recommendation to the board in February or March.

Earlier in public comment, Tiffany Hurd of Sabattus expressed concerns that Litchfield Director Dori Upham had at least three consecutive unexcused absences this year, according to approved meeting minutes. She recited a board policy, which says the seat should be declared vacant after three consecutive unexcused absences.

Upham said she was absent because she was caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s.


English said the problem was with the minutes, which listed her absences as unexcused, and not with the absences themselves.

Laura Clifford, who has two children in the district, requested that the superintendent consider hosting regular informational Zoom meetings again.

“I think it really helped put some of the chitter chatter to bed and the assumptions and all that noise,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s something that maybe will be considered in the future . . . I thought they were pretty beneficial that we could hear, have conversation back and forth . . . and not always have to come to this space to do that.”

Wednesday’s meeting at Sabattus Elementary School followed a public forum on the district’s universal masking policy, which at least 130 people attended, either in person or online.

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