News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, May 30, 2013
Superintendent Mark Jenkins requests guidance on strategic plan
Idea of bond package for renovations floated

Deer Isle-Stonington CSD Archive
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by Jessica Brophy

At the second scheduled board meeting this month, which took place on May 22, Superintendent Mark Jenkins asked the board for input on which elements of the strategic plan should be turned into action steps.

The strategic plan has been in the works since late 2011. It is meant to be a five-year planning document, offering guidance to the school board and administration on what goals to pursue and how to pursue them. When Jenkins was hired in summer 2012, he requested time to work with the plan to streamline it and turn the goals into achievable, measurable action steps. On Wednesday, he provided an outline of his plan for the summer, which includes a reworked draft on June 4, another at the July meeting and will culminate in an August 6 adoption of the strategic plan.

Before the June 2 meeting, Jenkins said, he needs the board to help narrow the scope of the document. There are five areas the strategic plan addresses: student achievement, teaching and learning, staff, school climate and co-curricular, and budget and finance. In the original strategic plan, each of these areas has a long list of potential strategies and goals. Jenkins asked the board to focus in on a few of those strategies and goals to actualize into a new plan.

While board member Stephen York responded favorably to the working draft presented by Jenkins, calling it “a manageable document,” not all board members shared that view.

Board member Andy Vaughn said that he was “not optimistic” that a strategic plan would be adopted in August. “What we were presented tonight is not what we were told we would be presented with,” he continued. “I’m very concerned [the strategic plan] is not where it needs to be.”

Skip Greenlaw asked whether the staff had been able to offer feedback on the draft and suggestions for fine tuning. Jenkins said he had worked closely with the administrators and leadership team, and that the working draft would be available to teachers and other staff to respond to it. The strategic plan will next be discussed at the June 4 monthly meeting.

Potential bond for renovations

Jenkins told the board that he had asked Head of Maintenance David Pelletier for a “wish list” of projects that need doing in terms of facilities maintenance at the high school and at the elementary school.

“I got about a third of the way through the list when I realized there was too much for us to keep pace with,” said Jenkins. “Sixty to $100,000 a year [on facilities maintenance] is not going to cut it. I think we draft a facilities maintenance plan and take it to the voters as a bond project.”

Most of the work is needed at the high school, said Jenkins. “The physical plant is going downhill,” he continued.

“If interest rates stay low, it could be a good time to be talking about doing this,” said Vaughn, who encouraged Jenkins to seek community feedback early in the process. The board said Jenkins should proceed with gathering information about what kinds of projects are needed.

School safety

The board discussed school safety. Elementary school principal Mike Benjamin said the school had practiced a lockdown and that it went very well. Some small issues needed to be addressed, such as curtains, but overall the drill went well.

“The drill allayed a lot of concerns that the teachers had,” said Benjamin. The drill was orchestrated by Chief Deputy of Hancock County Sheriff Department Richard Bishop, and involved state and local police. The local fire departments and ambulance corps were not involved with the drill, at the discretion of Bishop, said high school principal Todd West.

Parent Heidi Shepard said that she hoped there would be better training available for substitute teachers on what to do in an emergency situation. Benjamin said such training was under construction.

Bill Shepard asked whether the board had considered training a few key people at the high school and elementary school to carry and use non-lethal weapons such as a stun gun or rubber bullets. “I’m not saying arm the school to the teeth, but if someone got in, there would be no resistance,” he said.

Jenkins said that weapons had not been part of the discussion up to that point.

There continues to be discussion about changing the entrance to the elementary school to make it more secure, and similarly, the issue of improving safety on bussing is also an ongoing discussion.

In other business, the board discussed and gave informal approval to renaming the elementary school cafeteria after Dick Powell to recognize his many years of service with the chess program. The process usually takes about a year.

The board also accepted a $35,000 MELMAC Education Foundation grant and another $10,000 grant, both to be used for the development of the Marine Studies pathway program at the high school. The board also accepted a donation of office furniture and conference tables.

CSD School Board

Next meeting Tuesday, June 4, 5:30 p.m. Deer Isle-Stonington High School Cafeteria