Despite some frustration from families and staff, RSU 40 has delayed the start of school to Monday, Sept. 14 due to a delay in the shipment of fans necessary to ventilate classrooms.
The RSU 40 Board of Directors approved the delay Thursday, Sept. 3. The vote was 761-69, using the district’s weighted voting formula.
RSU 40 Superintendent Steve Nolan said the district needs the fans to address ventilation issues and meet state guidelines for returning to in-person instruction. The fans have been ordered, but have not arrived.
“The primary reason for the change is a delay in receiving products we ordered. We are finding using the supply chain is a slow process right now. I’m concerned about having adequate ventilation,” Nolan said. “I don’t feel we can meet the requirements.”
The longer-term solution to the ventilation issues is replacing windows, according to Nolan. He expects that process to be completed by December.
“In the short term we will be using fans in classrooms,” Nolan said. “We were expecting the fans this week.”
Members of the public questioned the need for the delay and voiced frustration about having to find child care for a week students were going to be in school.
Nolan said he understood the frustration from parents and staff.
“Despite all of our efforts to start school next week, we find ourselves in a place we don’t want to be. We don’t have what we need to start right now,” Nolan said.
Board member Guy Bourrie, of Washington, asked if the state requires fans to improve air circulation.
“There is no requirement for fans. The requirement is to have adequate ventilation,” Nolan said.
Only one board member, Julie Swindler, of Warren, voted against the motion to delay the start of school.
Nolan said he would be communicate the delay to families the next day.
Board Chair Danny Jackson said a notice about the delay would be posted on the homepage of the district’s website, msad40.org.
Swindler asked if the delay would give the district enough time to get the fans it needs.
“I can’t guarantee we won’t be in this position next week, but we are doing everything we can to pull it together,” Nolan said.
Jackson said that if further delays are needed, the board could hold a special meeting.
RSU 40 schools, including Waldoboro’s three schools, had been scheduled to reopen the week of Labor Day.
Students at RSU 40 schools and in some classes within those schools will start school on different days.
Students from prekindergarten through grade six will start school Monday, Sept. 14, after being scheduled to start Tuesday, Sept. 8.
At Medomak Middle School in Waldoboro, seventh graders will start school Monday, Sept. 14, after initial plans to start Tuesday, Sept. 8; while eighth graders will start Thursday, Sept. 17, after planning to start Friday, Sept. 11.
Medomak Valley High School will start with two days of freshman orientation on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 14 and 15, followed by grades 10-12 starting Wednesday, Sept. 16.
Freshmen were initially scheduled to start Tuesday, Sept. 8, with the other high school grades starting Wednesday, Sept. 9.
Nolan said the neighboring Five Town Community School District had also delayed the first day of school to Monday, Sept. 14; and Rockland’s Mid-Coast School of Technology, where RSU 40 students go for career and technical education, had done the same.
Friendship Village School and Prescott Memorial School will start with in-person instruction, with the district’s five other schools starting the school year with a hybrid model.
Nolan said teachers would have workshop days on Wednesday, Sept. 9 and Thursday, Sept. 10.
Scott Hastings, a social studies teacher at MVHS, asked about the potential for teachers to work a full week starting Tuesday, Sept. 8. Norma Hunt, an ed tech at MVHS, asked about ed techs coming into work Tuesday, Sept. 8.
Nolan said the school budget does not have funds for either proposal.
The two workshop days scheduled for next week are covered by the budget since the district moved workshop days previously scheduled for Sept. 18 and Oct. 9, according to Nolan.
In other business, Nolan said the district is working to get electronic devices to all elementary students, starting with the upper grades.
RSU 40 Director of Technology Linda Trenholm said it is not an issue of the district needing more devices, but a question of getting the devices on hand to all the students that need them.
“We have never had a 1-to-1 deployment at the elementary level before,” Trenholm said.
Trenholm said the district is issuing 468 Google Chromebooks as part of this effort.