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by Jessica Brophy
In its special meeting on Thursday, June 16, the CSD Board certified the results of the Tuesday, June 14, referendum on the school budget, 6-0.
The board also discussed the elementary school reading program extensively with reading consultant Candice Bray. Bray, who works with schools across the state to improve literacy, described her job as establishing “what’s working and what’s not.”
When Bray first started working with DISES more than two years ago, the major problem was a lack of basic reading skills among students. The school implemented a reading program called Fundations in kindergarten through grade 3, and, with the success of that program, decided to adopt Reading Street, a core reading program for grades K-5.
Bray is pleased about the progress with Reading Street. “Many schools would like to be where this school is,” she said.
Board chairman Mark Cormier said the reading materials in the program were rather dry, and were excerpts from books or essays. Board member Andy Vaughn asked if it would be possible to incorporate more books into the program, as books tend to inspire a love of reading that excerpts do not.
Third grade teacher Judy Rhodes suggested supplementing Reading Street with literacy circles, where small groups of students read and discuss the same book. Bray agreed literacy circles could help build the program, but cautioned the core program needed to remain central for kindergarten through fifth grade.
Board member Linda Nelson said as the students move through the program, the board and teachers should look together to extrapolate what works to grades 6-8.
In other business, the board will begin a strategic planning process over the next few months. The goal is to clearly define the fundamental beliefs about the school shared by administration, faculty, staff, the school board and the community. These beliefs will then shape future budget processes, as well as the overall plans for the schools.
The school board announced two $1,000 teacher and support staff recognition grants. The first was awarded to Judith Hotchkiss, foreign language instructor at the high school, who has spearheaded the school’s literacy team. The second was awarded to Susan Siebert, the guidance secretary, who organizes graduation as well as coordinating schedules.
The board approved, 6-0, a student residency waiver request for custodian Robert Cole’s two children to attend Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School without charge so long as Cole remains the custodian. Cole lives in Brooklin. “Down here, it feels like a family,” Cole said. “Everyone welcomes you and it’s a really nice feeling. I want my boys to have that feeling also.”
High school principal Todd West encouraged the board to join the League of Innovative Schools, a group of schools that exchange innovative techniques for improving education. The cost of joining is low and will be covered by the existing professional development budget. The board approved the measure, 6-0.
The board authorized Superintendent Bob Webster to make budget line transfers up to 5 percent of the budget line, 6-0.
Webster then shared with the board three letters of resignation: elementary school ed tech Georgia Pashley, elementary school athletic director Vicki Davis, and high school marine trades teacher Tom Duym.
The CSD Board will meet on Tuesday, July 5, for its regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. at the high school.