April 20, 2019

SAD 70 board OKs 1996 harvest recess

HODGDON — By a 6-4 vote, the SAD 70 board decided to retain the annual potato-harvest recess for one year.

The vote at Monday’s meeting was the second in two weeks by a local school board regarding the harvest break. The SAD 29 board voted on Jan. 5 in Houlton to continue the recess there for two years before reviewing it again.

Violet Roy of Houlton presented both districts with petitions calling for an end to the recess, starting with the coming school year. Roy did not attend Monday’s meeting in Hodgdon.

Some board members in Hodgdon felt there was no need to have all students out for the entire three weeks.

“I think there are plenty of students in high school to take care of it,” board member John Clark of Linneus said. “You have students in nine grades doing nothing.”

Paul Harrison of New Limerick, however, said the break provides an educational opportunity for district students.

Another concern raised at the meeting was the impact of the recess on learning. All SAD 70 students start the school year in mid-August due to the harvest recess.

“I don’t have any sympathy for people who complain about having a short summer,” Clark said. “That’s not the point. Education, that’s the point. The point is we start (school) and interrupt it.”

“I don’t think you would have any complaint with any farmer if only the high school kids were out,” said Carlton Wallace of Hodgdon of the possibility of having elementary-level pupils in school while high school students stayed out for harvest.

In other action, the board voted to extend for one year the contracts of Ken Goodale, principal at SAD 70 Elementary School; Steve Fitzpatrick, principal at Hodgdon High School; Clark Rafford, assistant principal at the high school; special education director Scott Richardson; and guidance director Ruth Ann Cowger. Salaries will be determined by the board at a future meeting.

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