ROCKLAND, Maine — During a three-hour school board meeting Thursday night, the RSU 13 board decided to implement a six-week pilot program extending before-school supervision for children to a full hour. The program will cost $2 a child per day.
In a lengthy debate on the issue, board members discussed whether there should be a fee, how much the district should invest in the project and what to do about children who might get dropped off early, but do not pay.
This year several of the start times for the district’s schools have changed. Each school has always provided 30 minutes of supervision before school, but this program would give an additional 30 minutes of supervision for a fee.
“It’s just a convenience for parents,” said Superintendent Judith Lucarelli.
“We already supervise kids before school. It’s just an extension of that time.”
Lucarelli proposed investing $2,700 into the program’s first six weeks. This money would pay for the extra staff time. She said there would be no activities for the children during the extra half-hour.
The school board was split on whether to charge parents for the program from the start.
“I was under the impression that this was a self-sustaining program,” said board member Esther Kilgour. “I don’t want the taxpayer to pay for it.”
Kilgour said she did not support education dollars going toward child care.
Board member Steven Dyer agreed.
“I don’t believe we should give free day care,” he said. “I think they should be paying from day one. The taxpayer shouldn’t pay for it.”
Lucarelli argued that all children should be welcomed to the school on the first day without charge for an extra 30 minutes of supervision.
“That’s not OK,” Kilgour said.
Kilgour then proposed an amendment to a motion to accept the program. Her amendment stipulated the $2 fee. The vote was 6-6, but because the school board has weighted votes, the amendment passed.
The school board voted to accept the program for six weeks. Lucarelli will give a report on the progress of the program at the next school board meeting in September.
The board also discussed renaming South School Rockland Elementary School, but the board decided now was not the best time for the change.
There also was discussion about what to do with the closed MacDougal School’s boiler. Lucarelli reported that bids had come in for the work, which includes taking the boiler out of MacDougal and putting it into South School. The bids ranged from $50,000 to almost $100,000. Lucarelli recommended the board keep the boiler, but not take any action to move it yet.
The next RSU 13 school board meeting is 6:30 p.m. Sept. 2.