SAD 17 directors discuss proficiency-based education

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NEW SYSTEM — Members of the SAD 17 Board of Directors listen as administrators detail the plans to implement proficiency-based education across the district.

PARIS — SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts told the Board of Directors at its June 4 meeting that proficiency-based education will allow Oxford Hills School District students to gauge “where they are now, where they want to be and how to get there” in their learning process.

What it will not do, said administrators, is take away things such as class rank, the naming of a Valedictorian and Salutatorian and other markings of  distinction  for “top” students.

The system will work for all students, said many of the administrators and board members during the more than 90-minute spirited discussion.

Not all are convinced of the merits of the new system that was mandated by the state Legislature in 2012 and is being implemented in school districts statewide. Some, such as student representative Katrina Wilson and Director Bob Jewell, questioned what they see as “holes” in the system asking how can one student who makes the “grade” easily  and another who struggles to get there be judged as earning the same “grade.”

“I think someone should be rewarded for getting it,” said Jewell. He also stressed that the new system be communicated in a such a way that parents can understand it as well as colleges, who will be reviewing student entry applications based on a system that may not be the same as another school.

Teacher Joe Cummings said he supports the new system because it wiill be accountable to 100 percent of the students and allow that students who are not considered “top students” to know what they need to do to be successful.

A public forum is being held on June 14 at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School beginning at 7 p.m. to allow the community to learn about proficiency based education and ask questions.

Other news

In other news, Paris Elementary School Assistant Principal Lorrence Pacholsky was unanimously appointed principal of the Paris Elementary School. The Oxford Hills alumna has been employed by the district since 1998 serving as a primary teacher, reading recovery teacher and reading interventionist before becoming assistant principal. The appointing committee recommended unanimously that she be appointed.

The Board of Directors authorized the superintendent to enter into contract with Bahre Paris Realty to lease 1,500 square feet at 243 Main Street ion Paris, the former Family Dollar store space,

The space will be used to house the Streaked Mountain School students. A previous approval to lease another space in Paris was  considered too expensive when it was learned that major renovations would have to be completed at a cost of about $50,000 to use it as an educational space.

The proposed space will cost $157,000 over the next five years, a savings of about $10,000 from the previous proposal.

The majority of the board agreed to allow about 12 Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Varsity softball program students to go to Florida in the spring of 2019 to participate in the Disney Wide World of Sports “Fast Pitch Spring Training.”

Softball Coach Cynthia Goddard told the board that the value of the trip was the opportunity for the students to become immersed in other cultures and a higher level of competition not available in the Oxford Hills.

The students will miss 2.4 days of classroom time during the six-day trip, she said.

Director Kathy Laplante and others had questioned the merits of the trip primarily because of the loss of classroom time.

“Education is not only in the classroom,” Goddard said.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net