FARMINGTON — W.G. Mallett School Principal Tracy Williams presented an administrative report to the Regional School Unit 9 Board of Directors Tuesday, Feb. 14. In her report, she touched upon issues with attendance and provided updates on the academic progress of her students.

Williams stated that while student attendance improved compared to the previous year, staff and student absenteeism is still higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

When questioned by a board member about the nature of the absences, Williams offered stomach and respiratory illness as the best explanations for the cause of these absences.

“It just seemed like every day, the custodians had to go into many cleanups, unfortunately, for sick children,” she stated. “It really was pretty intense for a while. I think it went around the district that there was high absenteeism. We were about that threshold as well [of potentially calling off school].

“It’s definitely better right now, though,” she added.

Superintendent Christian Elkington corroborated some of her theory by bringing up that, even before he entered the district as superintendent, many older staff members were going into retirement, making room for younger staff to take their place.


“Younger staff have what? Children,” he stated. “What happens? Children get sick. It’s an issue that we have with staff too, because our staff absences have been larger than we would like, but it’s a confluence of several events that are occurring at the same time.”

Williams also stressed the importance of volunteers and has seen a steep decline in active volunteers in the school over the last few years.

“When I started out Mallet in 2005, every kindergarten class had a volunteer,” she mentioned. “I remember one year we had something like 9,000 volunteer hours.”

According to Williams, the decline of volunteers started to occur even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There was just less parent involvement, physically coming into school and volunteering,” she said. “A regular volunteer can significantly help the classroom a lot.”

On the academic side, the math and literacy scores were also included in the report. For math, W.G. Mallett students are performing well with 84% of kindergarten students meeting or exceeding expectations, compared to 70% in the fall data. The same can be said for first [95%] and second graders [73%].

For literacy, however, the scores are less than favorable according to Williams. “I’m not happy with the data,” she said.

According to her report, 47% of first graders and 37% are meeting or exceeding the expectations, with the remaining only partially meeting this expectation or not meeting it at all.

“We actually met last week about it in teams, and then tomorrow morning, we have a staff meeting,” Williams stated. “Our primary objective is really debugging it and picking it apart. We’re halfway through the year, so we will progress but it’s not where it should be.”

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