Superintendent’s Corner

December 13, 2022

Greetings and happy holidays to all RSU 67 staff, students, families, and community members!

While snow lovers patiently await the first appreciable snow of the season, the recent stretch of frigid air is a telltale sign that winter will soon have a firm grip on our region.  November has quickly come and gone, and now the holiday season is upon us.  At the time of this writing, there are only 7 school days until the holiday break, which begins on December 23rd and ends on January 2nd.  As the holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday, filled with joy and peace. 

 As December marks the halfway point of the school year, and my first year as Superintendent in RSU 67, this edition of the Superintendent’s Corner provides an overview of what the district has accomplished since the close of the 2021-2022 school year.  As Robert Schuller once said “good things are often birthed from adversity” I believe this is true for RSU 67.  Our collective work and progress during the last several months have been substantial. 

 One of my primary goals for 2022-2023 was to improve safety and security in all RSU 67 facilities. In this regard, district administration worked with local and regional law enforcement this past summer to review best practices in school safety and security, and update school procedures.  School safety plans were updated and approved by the school board, and professional development was provided to all staff.  Working with local law enforcement, the district developed a School Resource Officer program and a Memorandum of Agreement between the District and the Lincoln Police Department.  Although a permanent school resource officer has yet to be determined, a Lincoln Police Officer has temporarily filled the position to the best of his ability.  Finally, the District has recently contracted with a provider for additional safety and security support and training this winter.   

 Like many districts across the state and nation, RSU 67 began the school year with considerable staffing shortages in transportation and mental health services.  Both of these services are essential for our students and community.  Through collaboration with staff and our communities, and by utilization of available resources, the district was able to grow staff to fill these important roles.  With these new hires, we have been able to add consistent late bus runs for after-school activities, and we have been able to provide much-needed mental health services to children in need.  We still have work to do, but the progress has been significant.      

 Following a halt in strategic planning last year, the district has restarted this work and made substantial progress toward finalizing its plan.  Members of the School Board, administration, teachers, and community members have been working hard to complete a draft plan to share with the community this winter.  The RSU 67 Strategic Plan is a culmination of the thoughts, ideas, and vision of parents, community members, students, administration, and staff.  Once the plan is adopted by the School Board, it will serve as a roadmap for the district over the next five years.

In the spring of 2022, the district discontinued its partnership with Penquis Cap, who had provided oversight to the district PreK program at Ella P. Burr for many years.  With this change, the district was able to serve 32 children on a first-come, first-served basis.  Unfortunately, the demand for PreK services was higher than the district could serve, and several children had to be placed on a waiting list.  With the high demand for PreK services, the district applied for a PreK Expansion grant from the Maine Department of Education, and last week, we were informed that RSU 67 has been awarded a grant to expand PreK in 2023.  This will allow the district to add an additional PreK classroom at Ella P. Burr, which will serve an additional 16 children in 2023.  With this grant, RSU 67 will now be able to provide high-quality PreK programming to nearly every 4-year-old residing in one of the RSU 67 communities.  The RSU 67 PreK program is a full-time, five-day-per-week program that follows the regular school year calendar. 

 As the district worked to improve school/district safety and security, complete the strategic planning process, and expand PreK opportunities to all children in RSU 67 communities, the district has also done extensive work to improve student academic outcomes through high-quality instruction and intervention.  Our staff has engaged in substantial professional development to better understand the impact of the pandemic on our students, improve analysis of student performance gaps, and improve their skills in developing interventions to address those gaps.  The administration, teachers, and support staff have prioritized instruction and intervention programming that will ensure improved academic outcomes for our students.

 In 2022-2023, the district is working to regain the high level of student and community engagement that members of the RSU 67 community were accustomed to prior to the pandemic.  While there is still work to be done, the district is seeing increased participation in parent-teacher conferences, Title I meetings, and parent information sessions.  At our most recent parent-teacher conferences held prior to Thanksgiving, nearly 90% of our elementary parents attended a conference, which is an increase from 80% last year.  This trend is also evident in parent information nights, at sporting events, and other school-sponsored events. Within our schools, the district is seeing an increase in student participation in athletics, the arts, and other extra-curricular activities.  This is a very positive trend overall.

The highlights provided in this edition of the Superintendent’s Corner are just a small sample of the collective work we have done over the course of the past 6 months.  As Superintendent, I am immensely proud of our students, staff, and administrators for how they have overcome the adversity of the pandemic with determination and fortitude.  We are a district that has emerged from the pandemic stronger, and we are better prepared to meet the needs of our students.  We are on the move and I am proud to serve the RSU 67 communities now and into the future. 

May the blessings of this holiday season be upon you and your families.  I wish you all great joy and happiness in 2023.

Until next time…………….