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by Colin Powell
From an 86-page grant document, Superintendent Bob Webster presented the CSD 13 school board and a number of members of the public with a distilled list of 21 points, which comprise the school improvement grant at the board’s May 4 meeting. Webster also noted that due to issues at a number of the schools applying for the SIG, the deadline has been pushed back to Friday, May 14. It would have otherwise been due this Friday.
Principal Todd West noted that the application would currently ask for about $1.9 million over three years, which Webster said was close to the highest amount the district is allowed to ask for. West said sections two and three of the grant, increasing staff capacity and student support respectively, accounts for about 80 to 90 percent of the grant money. “We’re talking about staffing changes, and that’s expensive,” West told the audience.
While nearly $2 million may sound like a lot of money, West told the audience to divide that over three years and pay staff to do things above and beyond what they are already doing. “It gets expensive quickly,” said West.
“If our goal is to raise the bar and be a high achieving school in more than SAT scores, the two areas we need to invest time and money is in struggling students and teachers. Since we’re asking teachers to be accountable for the performance of their students, we have to give them the time and money to do it,” explained West.
West also noted the importance of considering notes he put in his principal’s report regarding whether the school has the resources to really commit to the activities proposed in the grant, continue them when the grant is completed in three years, and to not lose ground on the many improvements the school has been working on over the past two years. Deer Isle resident Linda Nelson pointed out that the name of the model the community has chosen to pursue is the “transformational” model. “That means you transform from where you start. It means things continue after three years, and it means you will hopefully be in a different place when you’re done,” explained Nelson.
Board member Mark Cormier said his major problem with the grant since work started on the application has been that at the end of three years the community will have to pick up funding. “We’re in a bad spot right now,” said one parent in response. “Give my kid a quality education and I don’t have a problem paying for it,” he added.
Discussing the procedure for the grant, board member Walter Kumiega explained that the grant application will be completed and submitted without board approval by the May 14 deadline. “If the grant is awarded, we can still vote not to accept it,” said Kuemiga.
Board member Andrew Vaughn noted that he has yet to see much of the grant, including timelines, evaluations and costs for each of the 21 items. He suggested that the board have a more complete discussion of the grant at their June 1 board meeting.