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RSU 75 policy would bar sick employees from schools in Topsham, Harpswell

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RSU 75 policy would bar sick employees from schools in Topsham, Harpswell

TOPSHAM — A policy barring sick employees from Regional School Unit 75 schools is scheduled for a School Board vote on Thursday, Oct. 8.

The policy, aimed at controlling the spread of communicable diseases such as H1N1 (or swine flu), had its first reading Sept. 24 and will get a second reading prior to the vote.

RSU 75 Superintendent Mike Wilhelm said the policy "allows the district to ask employees not to be here if they present as having a communicable disease, and place the safety and well-being of others at risk."

Wilhelm said the district already has a similar policy for students, but none for employees.

"Given the potential of a serious situation, we felt we probably should (have an employee policy)," he said.

The board last week also discussed a letter to be sent to Maine Department of Education Commissioner Susan Gendron concerning the cost of new signs related to the district's name change to RSU 75 from Maine School Administrative District 75. The change, prompted by the state's school consolidation law, affects RSU 75's fleet of buses and other vehicles carrying the district name and would cost an estimated $5,000 for nearly 50 vehicles, Wilhelm said.

At a previous meeting, the board regarded the expense as an unintended consequence of the consolidation law, coming during an already difficult budget time, and asked Wilhelm to draft a letter to Gendron pointing out the expense. Wilhelm brought that letter to last week's meeting, but was told by board members that the document was "too gentle," he said on Monday.

Wilhelm said the board wants to express not just its dismay at the amount, but to also state that it does not want to spend the money on expenses unrelated to education and the health and safety of its students. The board also wants to hold off any sign changes until after the Nov. 3 state referendum that would repeal the consolidation law.

"Every district in this state's going to be facing a loss in (state) subsidy this current year that we did not anticipate," Wilhelm said. "So why would we want to spend $5,000 we don't need to spend?"

Wilhelm said he plans to bring a more strongly worded letter to the board at its Oct. 8 meeting. That meeting will begin at Harpswell Islands School at 6:30 p.m.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.