Chinese students can now graduate at OHCHS

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SECOND HOME — Yang "Austin" Cheng, an exchange teacher from the Zhejiang Normal University High School in China told the SAD 17 Board of Directors at its May 7 meeting that the Oxford Hills has become like his "second home," in the two years he has taught Mandarin and Chinese culture to Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School students.

PARIS — The SAD 17 Board of Directors approved the proposed fiscal 2019 budget, an agreement with a Chinese high school that will allow students from that country to get a diploma here and ok’d a proficiency based education policy.

But not without some dissent.

In a nearly two-and-a-half-hour meeting Monday night, the board approved a $39,974,851 budget that is a .57 decrease or $228,929 decrease from last year’s budget. The Budget Committee recommended passage.

Superintendent Rick Colpitts unveiled his proposed $40,046, 613 Fiscal 2019 budget at April 2 but said he was able to decrease the proposed budget even more in part because of additional carry over funds

The new budget includes money for 2.5 social workers at the smaller elementary schools that the board argued for, and several other positrons in addition to others detailed in the original proposed budget last month.

The budget does not include subsidized costs for MVR (Maine Vocational Regional 11)11 due to a change in the funding formula for Career and Technical Education. That changed saved the SAD 17 budget $2.7 million.

The budget also was adjusted to reflect lower proposed town assessments that now range from .026 increase for Harrison to a high of 5.50 for Otisfield.

Chinese students

The Board of Directors authorized Chairman Ron Kugell to sign the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School/Zhejiang Normal University High School Articulation Agreement.

The authorization came with lengthy debate by a few board members who questioned the logistics and costs of the agreement.

The agreement solidifies the continuing and growing relationship between the two schools that was established in 2007 and opens up the door for Zhejiang High School students who have completed three years of study in China to spend their fourth year at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

A delegation of SAD 17 administrators and students arrived in Jinhua, China last month to visit the district’s sister school, in part, to negotiate the agreement.

Under the agreement, the students will receive a diploma from Zhejiang High School after three years of study and a diploma from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School after successfully completing their fourth year here. OHCHS will accept the credit from the Chinese school to enroll them in their fourth year here.

Board member Kathy LaPlante said in her opinion the district is not saving money by bringing in tutitioned students.

“Please don’t coat it that we’re saving money,” she said.

A majority of the Board of Directors also turned down a motion by Director Bob Jewell to table a Proficiency Based Education policy.

Jewell argued that the community at large needs more information about the state mandate before the board takes a vote.

He and others said they have heard from some members in the community who do not approve of the plan to get rid of the current grading system and replace it with a proficiency grading system.

School Board Chairman Ron Kugell said the policy could be amended at any time.

In other action the directors approved:

  • Superintendent Rick Colpitts’ nominations of multiple teachers for 2018-2019 school year first, second and third year probationary contracts plus continuing contracts for others;
  • a class trip for Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School students to visit Spain and France in the spring of 2020;
  • the CAPS Alternative Education program trip to Hartland on June 12 and 13;
  • a trip for Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Advanced Placement Biology students to the Boston/Franklin Park Zoo and the New England Aquarium on May 21;
  • a field trip to Boston for grade 5 students at Oxford Elementary School on June 14.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net