Pre-K on hold for another year

MOUNT DESERT — COVID-19 caused Mount Desert Elementary School and Mount Desert Nursery School to shelve plans to start a joint pre-kindergarten program this past fall, and uncertainty over the ongoing impact of the pandemic has put those plans on hold for another year.

The plans called for the nursery school to host the pre-K program.

“There are still too many unknowns going into the rest of this school year and this summer and next school year,” said Aaron Long, executive director of the nursery school. “I think neither party is ready to move forward until we get a better handle on some of those things.”

“We know that pre-K is important; we know we should be doing it,” said school system Superintendent Marc Gousse. “But we are in the middle of a pandemic, so starting any new type of programming is going to be difficult. We do not have unlimited resources.”

Mount Desert Elementary Principal Gloria Delsandro has put $5,000 in her budget for the coming year to support communication with the families of young children and help them prepare for starting school. She said that budget item is “a commitment to our intent to create pre-K programming the following school year.”

Delsandro’s draft budget also includes $49,216 to increase the school’s technology integrator position from a 40 percent job to full time.

“We are using so much more technology than we ever have before,” she said. “The tech integrator is a super-valuable position in our school. It not only provides direct instruction and enrichment programs for students, but also provides support to teachers.

“They have learned so much and developed such great skills, and this position also provides direct instruction and training and on-the-spot support for teachers.”

Also reflected in the school’s budget for next year is a proposal to hire two new teachers on a one-year basis at a cost of $79,075 each, including salary and benefits.

“If COVID physical distancing and other restrictions are still in place, my goal is to have certified teachers in charge of [regular class] pods and have our specials teachers [art, music, etc.] in their special roles,” Delsandro said.

“Our music teacher is teaching sixth grade now, and she’s awesome, she’s doing a great job. But it would be great to have music next year.”

She said the two one-year teaching positions she is proposing “are important to provide the level of programming and instruction that our students need to keep moving forward.”

Her proposed budget of $4.85 million is 8.66 percent higher than the budget for the current year. Without the proposed new spending items, which total $212,366, the increase would be 4.75 percent.

The Mount Desert school committee is to consider the proposed budget at their Feb. 3 meeting.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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