September 13 Conversation with RSU 24 Superintendent Michael Eastman [VIDEO] UPDATED
On Tuesday September 13th WDEA's Chris Popper had a conversation with RSU 24 Superintendent Michael Eastman regarding the continued delays in starting school for grades 6-12 at the new Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus.
As it stands today, September 13th, the earliest that children would begin school would be Monday, September 19th, and there's no certainty that , that day is in concrete and no certainty that school will begin in-person rather than remote.
Click to watch and listen to the conversation
Here is the letter that Superintendent Eastman sent out to parents, students and staff on Tuesday afternoon.
September 13, 2022
First, my apologies for the short notice on the cancellation of school for students and staff for tomorrow. I was waiting for a phone call last evening from the Department of Education that could have influenced the course of action and did not get that phone call until this morning. I have received phone calls, emails, and of course plenty of input on social media regarding this situation. There is no one more frustrated than I am. The delayed opening and uncertainty around all things relating to the new school is the result of a cumbersome and convoluted school construction process that has many people, agencies, and companies in the mix. The Maine Department of Education, CHA Architecture, Nickerson O’Day, and the RSU have to make decisions but each with a very different focus and responsibility. Although it is extremely frustrating, the school district has minimal control over the decisions that are being made that impact our students, families, and staff members in this situation.
Ultimately, we were to receive the building on July 15 from the general contractor. That did not happen. Many people want to debate the why and how of our current situation but my ultimate responsibility is to the students, staff, and parents of RSU #24. We do not have the time to sit around and allow the aforementioned process to keep us guessing about the date when we will get into the building. The more we wait for others to decide our fate, the greater impact it will have on our students and staff. It is because of this and with great reluctance that I announce that students in grades six through twelve will need to begin the school year with remote learning.
As a parent with a child who will be impacted, I share in the frustration that surrounds this decision. As superintendent, I will work with the middle and high school staff to make remote learning as successful as possible. Our staff will be spending the next three days preparing for remote learning and getting the necessary technology and materials to our students. Our students will begin remote learning on Monday, September 19th. We will be working closely with parents to assess the needs (technology, supplies,etc.) of our students and to get those items out as quickly as possible. You will hear directly from Principal Green regarding the specifics of remote learning at some point during the day tomorrow.
This is a very dynamic situation over which RSU #24 has no control. We are at the mercy of our general contractor and various government officials. We will reassess our need for remote learning in the coming weeks and will make a decision on how best to move forward (remote vs. in-person learning) on or about October 6th. This will give us time to work towards completing the remaining construction items to get us access to as much of the new school as possible, as quickly as possible.
A recurring question of late is how and when we will make up the missed dates for our students. Maine law provides that our students are required to attend school for 175 days. We will work with the Maine Department of Education to seek a waiver of some or all of the missed school days. I am committed to holding our graduation date (June 8, 2023) for our seniors. With some help from DOE, I believe it can happen, but we need to begin remote learning to achieve that goal.
As students and parents reflect on this new information, keep in mind that we are committed to getting us in the building as quickly as possible as it is the safest and most effective learning environment for our students. We will provide an update as soon as relevant information is available. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Principal Green at email@example.com.