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Collins on reopening schools: 'We need more funding, not threats'

Sen. Susan Collins met with leaders of the Bonny Eagle School District to discuss how they are preparing to safely reopen for in-person classes this fall.

HOLLIS, Maine — Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) visited Hollis Elementary School on Thursday and met with leaders of the Bonny Eagle School District (MSAD 6) to discuss how they are preparing to safely reopen for in-person classes this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Education Committee, met with Paul Penna, Superintendent of Schools MSAD 6; Lori Napolitano, Assistant Superintendent of Schools; and Clay Gleason, Principal of Hollis Elementary School.

After the tour, Collins told NEWS CENTER Maine she thinks schools needs more funding, "not threats to withhold funding."

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump threatened to withhold federal funding if schools don't reopen in the fall. Trump Tweeted that schools in Germany, Denmark, and Norway have reopened "with no problems."

RELATED: President Trump threatens to cut federal aid from schools that don't reopen

“The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election,” Trump said, “but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!” 

Collins said the discussion she had with MSAD 6 leaders on Thursday was "productive." Collins said, "Congress needs to provide additional funds in the next COVID-19 relief package to help school districts implement these changes to protect students, teachers, staff, custodians, food service and other employees.”

MSAD 6 is composed of Buxton, Hollis, Frye Island, Standish, and Limington. It serves more than 3,500 students and employs approximately 600 faculty and staff. There are six elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school.

In a letter on June 22, Superintendent Penna said, "We know that a return to school plan is important in order for parents/guardians to return to work. By the end of July, if not sooner, I hope to share a return to school plan with all stakeholders."

The Maine Dept. of Education is still working on framework for schools across the state. Click here to take the DOE's survey.

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