St. John Valley

Van Buren to enter collaboration with Caribou Schools

VAN BUREN, Maine — A collaboration between Van Buren and Caribou schools was approved Wednesday evening granting a new superintendent, gifted and talented director and school lunch director for Van Buren. 

RSU 39 in Caribou met for their annual budget meeting on May 25 and discussed a possible collaboration with SAD 24 in Van Buren. The collaboration would include sharing superintendent services, a gifted and talented director in addition to a school lunch director. Upon merging, both schools would benefit from access to each other’s vocational programs as well as splitting the costs of the positions shared. 

In June 2021, superintendent Elaine Boulier announced it was her last year serving Van Buren. Already in collaboration with Mars Hill, Van Buren had been sharing Boulier as a superintendent for the last five years. 

Boulier said her decision to leave was based on her getting closer to retirement. Though she will continue to be the superintendent for Mars Hill in the upcoming year, Boulier said she is not sure yet how many years she will continue to run the school. 

“If I do retire, I’ve got grandchildren and I want to be able to spend more time with my grandchildren and enjoy some of my hobbies more,” Boulier said.

In this upcoming transition, RSU 39’s assistant superintendent Jane McCall will become the new superintendent at SAD 24 beginning July 1. McCall will be in Van Buren twice a week while she continues to fulfill her duties at RSU 39, Boulier said. 

The decision to collaborate with Caribou for gifted and talented services and school lunch director came after Van Buren’s gifted and talented teacher, who was also in charge of the school lunch program, decided to retire.

Because Van Buren will be collaborating with Caribou in the upcoming years, Boulier said that the formal arrangement with Mars Hill will end, but some parts of the partnership will continue as they are where they share a special education director and bookkeeper. 

Boulier said some of these decisions were made to keep the transition into the collaboration with RSU 39 as smooth as possible. This kind of transition has the potential to upset staff and parents alike, even in Mars Hill, Boulier said. 

“It’s just multifaceted,” she said. “You just try to do what’s in the best interest of the district so that it doesn’t impact anybody.” 

In Boulier’s five years serving Van Buren, she said she has seen the district grow and is proud of where the schools stand today.

“It is a small but mighty district,” Boulier said. “It has been tremendous. We have made some great strides in multiple areas. Academically, instructionally, staff-wise, administratively — I just think it’s in a really good place.” 

“I think there are some exciting possibilities for the future and I applaud the school board for seeking out what would be a really good fit,” she said.

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