PARIS — The SAD 17 Board of Directors were told at its January 8 meeting that addressing the need for intervention in grades 3-6 could cost more than $1 million.
Superintendent Rick Colpitts presented the directors with what a team of school leaders believe could set the district on the right path toward improving student success rate through a variety of intervention ideas ranging from hiring 18 Ed Tech III employees at a cost of $720,000 to providing differentiation instruction at a cost of $22,400.
The $1,060,400 plan was provided to directors for informational purposes and is simply a wish list of what it would take to implement changes directors would like to see.
In October, the Board of Directors identified priority areas members want to discuss in greater detail as they begin to look at the impact of fiscal 2019 during the coming months. The presentation was part one of a four-part series that the directors will hear based on the priority list.
Based on the priorities identified by each director, the top choices included: interventionists for grades 3-6, replacing the high school roof and HVAC systems, implementing a single bus run to accommodate a later start for the middle and high school students, and looking at increasing access to psychological and social services for regular education students.
Colpitts stressed that state funding for education is unknown at this time so no analysis has been done on the impact of any of the plans to taxpayers should any or all of the suggestions be implemented in the future.
Colpitts said the district has a “strong foundation but a narrow footprint” in its efforts to address the issue of struggling students. In recent years, the district has adopted three new curriculum programs in math, reading and writing, instituted early release days once a week for professional development and mandated participation in mentoring and induction programs for new teachers.
The district has also placed a coordinated and sustained focus on reading; allowed content-strong teachers to teach to their strengths where possible; and provided targeted interventions through the Reading Recovery Program and reading interventionists at grades 1 and 2.
The district also provides extra instructional time, such as the summer program at Roberts Farm and various social emotional and behavior supports through part time guidance and social service programs to address the problems.
The presentation was met with a variety of questions and comments from board members including Director Bob Jewell from Paris who said he would like to see any money targeted toward intervention applied directly to the student.
Jewell said he believes many of the problems in the classroom are caused by youngsters’ disruptive behaviour and the failure or inability of that ongoing issue to be resolved.
Director Bob Celeste of Harrison asked where the district could ut money rather than spend it. Director Lew Williams of Hebron countered, saying the district has seen millions of dollars cut from its budget over the last decade,
The next priority funding informational presentation will be held at the board’s January 22 meeting.
In other action, the directors authorized the superintendent to arrange for the purchase and financing of a new school bus. The purchase and financing is contingent on the Department of Education’s approval of state subsidy for the bus.
The purchase price varies from $95,000 to $98,000 and are negotiated through a state bid process. Most of the SAD 17 fleet are purchased through a lease purchase three-to-five year agreement.
The majority of directors also approved the lease purchase financing of musical instruments. The Finance Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the board award the lease purchase financing to Androscoggin Bank at a rate of 3.27 percent and an annual payment of $5,960.06