As we begin another school year, I first want to thank the citizens of RSU #34 for your continued support. At the annual school budget meeting and validation referendum you voted in support of the proposed FY21 school budget. The adopted budget represented our effort to offer the very best possible educational opportunities for our children and to deliver those opportunities in the most cost efficient manner. Your support of our school reflects your continued dedication to the children and future of our communities and is very much appreciated.
In March of 2020, we transitioned very quickly from learning in classrooms to learning remotely as COVID 19 changed our world. Teachers, Educational Technicians, and support staff left school on Friday March 13th unaware that the following week they would be tasked with fulfilling their responsibilities as educators in new and challenging ways. As we finished school lunch on Friday, little did we know that soon we would be delivering meals to our students via school buses, vans, and curbside pick-up. Maintenance and custodial staff immediately went to work deep cleaning and disinfecting buildings in hopes of the quick return of students. All of this hard work was only possible because Regional School Unit #34 staff share a deep dedication to the students we serve and we were committed to insuring the educational, emotional and nutritional needs of our students continued to be met even if it meant doing so in ways we had never imagined. What, at the start, was thought to be a temporary challenge turned out to be our reality for the remainder of the school year. Our staff never lost focus on what was most important, the students and families we serve.
This fall, we will continue to rise to the challenge of providing for the needs of our students in a very different environment. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to review our plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Our plan can be found on our website, www.rsu34.org or at the direct link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1PqC8unVC6Tzht8HGNQhzCseQazyNY5hz/edit#slide=id.g8fb5507416_0_312
This plan, like the initial efforts during the spring, is the result of a tremendous effort by staff and community volunteers. A committee led by Jon Doty, our Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, met regularly to refine plans for continued learning while the landscape of COVID19 changed daily. That landscape continues to change daily, and our plan provides a place to start and the flexibility to respond to the inevitable unknowns as our community, region, State, and our nation continue to respond to the pandemic. Our goal is to return all students to our classrooms just as soon as it is safe and advisable to do so. I believe this will only happen if we practice what we currently know are our best defenses for COVID19:
- Symptom Screening at Home Before Coming to School
- Physical Distancing
- Masks / Face Coverings
- Hand Hygiene
- Appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment
Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of our schools if you have questions or need assistance.
I continue to believe education is the key to economic growth and prosperity and to our ability to compete in the global economy. The future of our communities depends on how well we prepare our citizens for the 21st century. In the next decade, 90 percent of high-growth jobs will require post-secondary education or training. The promise of a high school diploma and a good work ethic, once the key to success in our towns, can no longer compete for even middle class living standards in our current economy. Preparing for these challenges means providing our students with quality education from early childhood through high school preparing them well for some form of post-secondary education or job training.
As our communities work to bring business and jobs to our region, let’s not lose sight of the facts. Even before such major considerations as taxes and utility rates, businesses consider the education level of a region as a primary incentive for location and incorporation. An educated workforce reliably demonstrates commitment to home ownership, family and community. That equals productivity for business. Education equals job creation. Every economic indicator validates the connection between solid educational programs and the common good.
As always, we look forward with anticipation to the new school year. This year will certainly present new and different challenges for both schools and families. The statement “We Are All in This Together” has been used, perhaps overused, in recent months. For the RSU #34 community though, we truly are all in this together. The success of the 2020-2021 school depends on our ability to work together. Cooperation of students, staff, families, and the community will be necessary if we are to be successful in living up to our mission;
“Regional School Unit #34 is a place where all students are deeply engaged in their learning and prepared for all that the future has to offer.”
Superintendent of Schools