Regional School Unit 3 Superintendent Charles Brown said at a Feb. 8 School Board meeting the COVID-19 outbreak reported last month at the Mount View Complex by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention had been closed by the following day. He credited the health staff at the Mount View Complex for their hard work, saying “they have been phenomenal throughout this.”

Because of the hybrid nature of classes in the district, the facility did not have to close, and while he feels the district is “fortunate,” that it did not have to change its current structure, the number of casees is still a concern. At this point, he said, there have been 11 cases associated with the school district, which is higher than some comparable districts.

Four at-large School Board director seats up for grabs in June

Charity Vines, secretary to the superintendent, said this year RSU 3 district towns will be electing four at-large directors to serve on the School Board for Freedom, Jackson, Knox and Liberty.

Candidate nomination papers are now available and can be picked up at the RSU 3 Central Office, 84 School St., Unity (948-6136, opt. 1); Freedom Town Office, 71 Pleasant St. (382-6177); Jackson Town Office, 730 Moosehead Trail (722-3439); Knox Town Office, 10 Abbott Road (568-3907) and Liberty Town Office, 7 Water St. (589-4318). Contact each individual office for times of operation as hours vary.

Vines said candidates should live in one of the four towns and should go to their town office to verify residency, pick up nomination papers and start getting signatures.

At least 25, and no more than 50, signatures are required, of registered voters in their town to be placed on the ballot. All candidate nomination papers must be delivered to the Registrar of Voters in the respective RSU 3 member towns where signatures have been collected on or before Thursday, March 11, for certification.

All certified candidate nomination papers must be delivered to the RSU 3 Central Office by 3 p.m. Thursday, March 18.

"It can be confusing," she said, and encouraged candidates to call her at 948-6136, option 1 or email, with any questions.

Election Day is Tuesday, June 8, this year. All voters may vote in their town for all vacant at-large RSU 3 director seats, regardless of the residency requirement for the vacant seat.

Equity and Cultural Responsiveness Committee

Mount View High School Principal Zackary Freeman spoke about a new committee he has been working on that deals with diversity issues throughout the district. The group began meeting in August of last year and currently has 15 to 20 stakeholders whose goal is to determine issues and how to best address them.

Freeman said they surveyed staff and students and are identifying areas of concern, working on creating a core values statement and making a list of action steps the group would like to accomplish. They expect to give a presentation of their findings to the School Board in March or the first part of April.

Life grant still available for class of 2020

A life grant totaling $16,800 earmarked for the class of 2020 graduates, Freeman said, is still available, with students eligible to receive a $200 grant for post-secondary education, to buy books or purchase boots.

According to Freeman, only 25% of the class has taken advantage of this grant. Any remaining funds, he said, will be equally distributed to the class of 2021, 2022 and 2023 because the pandemic has halted the majority of fundraising efforts.

Any class of 2020 students wishing to apply for this grant, he said, should contact the main office at the high school at 568-3255.

$600,000 drop in state funding this year

John Wentworth, Knox School Board director, said this year because of lower student enrollment, state funding for the district is expected to be $600,000 less than the previous year . The two-year enrollment average is down by 87 pupils, he said.

Brown said, "$600,000 is a significant decrease… We have our work cut out for us.

“RSU 3 has seen a decline (in enrollment) over the past several years,” he said.

According to Maine Department of Education's calculation for funding public schools, enrollment in RSU 3 dropped by 138 students, from 1,213 students in October 2019, to 1,075 in October 2020.

“We have to do a better job of selling RSU 3 to people,” Brown said, and added that recruiting might be needed.

When asked if the reduction in enrollment was because of a growing number of parents taking students out of the school system to educate at home instead, Brown said that starting in September there were 141 kids home-schooled, and there are now 195.

“Home schooling continues to be a concern,” he said.

"Just this year we gave up a significant number (of students)," he said. There are also some students who are home-schooled who are not registered. The total number of students could be higher than 195, he added.