Members of the Nobleboro School Committee made key hiring decisions during their meeting on Monday, Aug. 8, but are still looking for a grade 7/8 teacher for the upcoming school year.
The board approved hiring a first grade and a sixth grade teacher, but there is no current offer for a seventh and eighth grade teacher and the school year may begin with the position unfilled.
Committee Chair Angela White asked NCS Principal Adam Bullard about contingency plans if the position remains open. Bullard said he has a strong candidate to interview and is also reaching out to long term substitute teachers who have worked well with middle level students in the past.
As long as the position remains without a permanent teacher, the school will continue to advertise to fill it, he said.
In light of the large number of students moving into the first grade for the 2022-2023 school year, the school committee agreed to a second first grade teacher. The 2021-2022 kindergarten class had 22 students and the board members agreed splitting the class would alleviate the pressure on both the teaching staff and the educational technicians.
The board approved hiring Alison Kelsey-Bryant for a one year probationary contract for the position. The contract will be paid for through elementary and secondary school emergency relief funds that were granted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bullard said that while the position is not guaranteed to last longer than a year due to uncertainty regarding future funding, he will advocate retaining the additional teacher, potentially in another capacity. In a subsequent phone interview, Bullard said he is interested in adding an early intervention specialist to the staff in the future, calling the position “another layer of support I’d like to see in the building.”
The board approved hiring Eddie Farrell for a one year probationary contract to teach sixth grade.
Current enrollment at NCS is 140 students, which Bullard said is in line with recent years. There are 14 students in the incoming kindergarten class.
The board approved hiring Shania Melvin to fill the open guidance counselor position. Melvin will be available three days a week, according to Bullard.
Bullard said Robyn Henny has been hired as a full-time administrative assistant. Previous administrative assistant Nancy Courville will stay on in a part-time role.
According to Bullard, the school still needs to hire two full-time and one part-time educational technicians. White asked if there were plans to hire a half-time speech therapist. Bullard said he has reached out to a retired speech therapist and is also considering combining the position with the part-time educational technician position to make the role more attractive to potential candidates seeking full-time work.
Alternate Organizational Structure 93 Superintendent Lynsey Johnston said the Maine Department of Education has retired the standard operating protocols for COVID-19 and the new recommendation is to follow the common communicable disease protocols.
Johnston said the cleaning practices put in place during the pandemic will be maintained but there are no plans to either deny or require masking, calling it the family’s choice. Extracurricular activities will be allowed in the building, but Johnston did recommend holding off on allowing families into the building during pickup and drop off.
“We still want to have a healthy dose of caution,” she said.
Peter Nielsen, business manager for AOS 93, said that after reviewing four bids to provide electric power to the five school organization, AOS 93 signed a 28-month contract with MP2, a division of Shell Energy. The price of 13.47 cents per kilowatt hour compared favorably with the standard rate from Central Maine Power at 18 cents per kilowatt hour, an approximate 15% savings.
Nielsen said he has seen rates in New England as high as 44 cents per kilowatt hour.
AOS 93 includes Nobleboro Central School, Bristol Consolidated School, Great Salt Bay School, Jefferson Village School, and South Bristol School.
Nielsen said he is also looking into a power purchase agreement with a solar farm to lock in longer term savings of 15% off CMP prices.
White asked about the advisability of a 20-year contract with a solar farm and said she is interested in exploring the possibility of adding solar panels to the school’s roof and potentially bringing a proposal to do so before the Nobleboro Select Board.
White said she is concerned about the age of the current heating system at the school and asked if the school should begin to look at alternatives including propane, heat pumps, boilers, or an either/or system that allows a facility to switch between fuel oil and propane based on price and availability.
She said she wants to begin to gather information and statistics in order to work with town governance toward cost-effective solutions.
Bullard informed the board 13 kids attended summer school at NCS with an 88% attendance rate. This summer NCS partnered with the Central Lincoln County YMCA to provide a full day of programming with academic activities at the school in the morning and a focus on social-emotional skills at the YMCA in the afternoon.
Bullard is interested in exploring further community collaborations. “It’s my belief that we can’t do it alone … that we need partners and we need stronger community connections,” he said.
Bullard said he is in contact with the Apprentice Shop in Rockland about the possibility of partnering with students in the school’s Center for Alternative Learning to build a toboggan that could be raced in the U.S. National Toboggan Championships at the Camden Snow Bowl.
The next regular meeting of the NCS school committee is Monday, Sept. 12, at 5:30 p.m. at the Nobleboro Central School, 194 Center St., Nobleboro.