JAY — The Regional School Unit 73 board of directors voted 10-1 Thursday to schedule professional development time during early releases next year.

Voting in favor were Lynn Ouellette, Tasha Perkins, Holly Morris, Robin Beck, Robert Staples, Lenia Coates, Elaine Fitzgerald, Jodi Cordes, Andrew Sylvester and Phoebe Pike.

Director Joel Pike was opposed and Directors Chantelle Woodcock, Patrick Milligan and Ava Coates were absent.

At the May 12 meeting directors approved the school year calendar dates but tabled a decision on when professional development would occur. District schools use late arrivals on Wednesdays but staff had approached Superintendent Scott Albert about using early releases instead.

Concerns raised at that meeting included hours of classroom instruction lost, the number of early arrivals in some months and students losing that extra hour of sleep midweek. A two-hour late arrival was also a question.

On Thursday, Albert provided additional information on a slightly different calendar proposal.


Regarding a two-hour late arrival, Albert shared several concerns. It would be more difficult for parents who work, and those who do have to send their students at the regular time wouldn’t be able to because the 21st Century program doesn’t run in the morning and extra busing isn’t available, he said. Access to breakfast and the feasibility of serving (and eating) two meals in 90 minutes were other factors, he said.

As is the case currently, professional development could also be interrupted for teachers needing to prepare for the school day, Albert said. Teachers had indicated it may be possible to stay later in the day to finish something without the pressure of needing to be somewhere right at 2:30 p.m., he added.

Removing four of the early dismissals originally proposed will give the same amount of professional development time as with the late arrivals. Early dismissals would allow those students who can’t go home to remain at school, Albert said.

He noted the early releases that had been removed and why: Oct. 5 because there is already a workshop that week, Nov. 16 because there were three scheduled that month, Jan. 4 because schools are just back from vacation and it’s already a short week, and March 15 because there were three scheduled that month and there are two workshops that week.

Staples spoke about his time as a teacher and having to stop professional development time in the middle to get to the classroom, whereas in the afternoon teachers might be able to stay longer and get it done.

“A two-hour block in the afternoon, you have much more time to get things done,” he noted.


Ouellette said the decision of trying to meet the needs of administrators, staff, parents and children was made easier with the new information.

“I think it is a win-win for both parents and teachers in this situation,” Cordes said. “From the parents’ side of things, I think they will be able to digest those (early release dates highlighted in yellow on the school calendar) much better, be able to figure out childcare.”

They will be Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 2 and 30, Dec. 14 and 22 (start of vacation), Jan. 18, Feb. 1 and 15, March 1 and 29, April 12 and 26, May 10 and 24 and June 9 (proposed last day of school). There will be no prekindergarten classes on early release days.

Joel Pike said he is a strong supporter of development for teachers but still had concerns. He noted value to students starting later in the morning and time lost academically.

In other business, a moment of silence was held for the victims and families at Robb Elementary School in Texas.

In his report, Albert said, “Safety is on everyone’s mind and we need to balance ourselves between the fear and the reality of living our lives as normal as possible. We will continue to follow our safety protocols and I have reminded my administrators to remind staff of the importance of having our doors locked and to be aware of our surroundings.

“Our new (school resource officer) Joe Sage is on board, he met with each building administrator yesterday and we met today. All buildings have done lock down drills this year. The vast majority of the staff have been trained and we will continue to have annual training on what to do in certain safety situations. A brief safety letter was e-mailed out late this afternoon.”

RSU 73 includes the primary school in Livermore and the elementary, middle and high schools in Jay. Students from Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls attend.

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