Superintendent's Welcome!

November 20, 2020
 
Greetings from RSU #24,
 
I hope this email finds each of you surviving the challenging times that we are in.  The cold temperatures are a reminder that the winter season is right around the corner!
 
COVID-19 continues to impact our schools.  We are working hard to make sure that anyone on our buses or in our buildings is wearing a mask, is keeping an adequate distance from other individuals, and is appropriately washing hands and using hand sanitizer.  We also have been taking measures at each school to examine the number of students in the building at any one time and where necessary, to reduce the number of students in the classroom at one time in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.  As always, we are following the guidelines that are being provided by the Maine CDC.
 
The Mountain View School had its first individual test positive for the virus.  Once we did the contact tracing, we realized that we would not have enough staff members in the building to safely operate given the requirement for staff to quarantine.  We opted to have our students learn from home for the week (week of 11/16/2020).  I believe it is extremely important for our students, parents and communities to know that our Maine Center for Disease Control, with the drastic increase in COVID cases, does not have the capacity to support schools in a timely manner.  I don't say that in judgement of the agency but to let you know that the reality is that we are in a position where we must make decisions following the guidelines AND in a timely manner but without the certainty that comes with support from the CDC.  We have been and will continue to be overly cautious in the decisions we make and will keep the needs of our students, staff, and parents at the forefront when making those decisions.  
 
I would be remiss if I didn't specifically recognize the efforts of our staff to serve our students during this difficult time.  Each person that we employ has played a very important role in making sure that we are able to provide learning for our students.  If you happen to meet up with a staff member from one of our schools, I hope you take time to thank him/her for the impressive commitment shown to our students.
 
The building project to replace Sumner Memorial High School continues to move along.  If you have the opportunity to view the building site, you will see that a great deal of work has been done to clear the land, remove unsuitable soils and replace with the appropriate materials, and blast away the rock on the site.  You can definitely tell that there is a major project underway!  
 
It is hard to believe but we are already preparing for the next budget cycle process.  Building administrators and program/department leaders are beginning to assess the needs for next school year.  We will have a number of budget workshop meetings and will communicate those dates as we get closer.  It is important to note that we have had a sharp decline in the number of students enrolled in our district.  I attribute this decline to the pandemic and I am hopeful that those students who are homeschooling as the result of the Coronavirus will return to our buildings once we have a vaccine.  The decline in the student population will have an impact on the subsidy we receive unless the Maine legislature takes action to minimize the impact.
 
I appreciate the continued support of our schools and the school district.  If you ever have a question or comment, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at meastman@rsu24.org.  
 
Sincerely,
 
Michael Eastman
2165 US Highway 1
Sullivan, Maine 04664