Mt. Blue RSD reports good start to school year
FARMINGTON - An excellent start to the school year, increased enrollment and possible heat issues in two schools marked the school board's Opening of School Report, delivered by the superintendent Tuesday evening.
Superintendent Michael Cormier reported that the opening had gone well, particularly Mt. Blue High School where students and staff are also adjusting to alterations to the facility due to the ongoing construction project. Cormier said that he thought in mid-July that it unlikely that school would be able to open on time, given the progress of the construction. However, efforts on the part of the contractor, architects and district staff have accelerated the progress enough to allow the building to be opened to students on time.
Cormier highlighted the food court area, which sees significant use by students even when lunch is not being served, as well as the forum area, which is complete save for the arrival of the chairs. The new library construction is also complete, although furniture and books are in the process of being installed.
"It has been a great opening of schools," Cormier said.
Enrollment throughout the district stands at 2,353, representing a 30-student increase from the previous year. Cormier attributed that increase to the inclusion of Starks students. Without those students, he said, the district would be roughly the same enrollment, which was generally good news. In the district's pre-Kindergarten program, 112 children were attending class. There were two vacancies at Cushing Academy, one at Mallett School and none at Cape Cod Hill School, Cormier reported.
One issue staff and contractors have been grappling with at Mallett School and MBHS was heat in a handful of classrooms. In Mallett, some upper-level classrooms are heating up in part due their position, overlooking a white roof which has southern exposure. The lower roof reflects light and heat up into some second floor classrooms. Fans installed in one classroom did not make an appreciable difference, Cormier said, so the state paid to place a film on the windows, helping to reduce the amount of light reflecting off the roof.
Mallett School Principal Tracy Williams said that film did appear to make a difference and said that those in the classroom appreciated the effort to fix the issue. Cormier noted that the district also purchased window-mounted air conditioners as another way of beating the heat.
School board directors asked Cormier to ensure that the district did not "sign off" on the Mallett School with the architects until the issue had been dealt with on a more permanent basis. Air quality issues, Director Claire Andrews of Farmington noted, were one of the main reasons the old Mallett School had been replaced.
At the high school, air systems are heating incoming air going into five classrooms in the new wing, and the windows are not operable due to their height. That problem is under investigation Cormier said, and the district and architecture firm had split the cost of additional air conditioners for the impacted rooms.
"We're well vested in window air conditioner units," Cormier said. He noted the AC units could be reused by the district for summer school and other activities.