Group seeks partners to boost school, community relations

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LIVERMORE FALLS – A new group hoping to build a stronger partnership between SAD 36 and the communities of Livermore and Livermore Falls is inviting more people to join it.

“It’s an effort to strengthen the relationship between our schools and the community,” Livermore Falls Middle School Principal Ted Finn said Thursday.

It’s also an effort to strengthen support for academics and students’ achievement.

Letters will be sent home with students between April 24 and 26 to invite parents and community members to the next meeting of Community School Involvement Livermore/Livermore Falls from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Livermore Falls Middle School cafeteria. The mission is to identify a goal or two that everybody can work toward for the 2006-07 school year to support the academic needs of all students in SAD 36, Finn said.

One of those goals could be an after-school program similar to Winthrop’s so kids can get academic help, he said. Another idea is to teach people what students are learning on the Internet and how students are using computers.

Brenda Bennett, executive director of Learning Disabilities Association of Maine, and Nancy Intrieri, executive director of Austism Society in Maine, were looking for a school system after they received a federal grant to do research on how communities can get more involved in their schools to be true partners in the overall educational process.

SAD 36 was the one school system that was willing to commit at elementary, middle and high school levels to the pilot program.

“The significance in the long run is huge in that community involvement in schools will have an impact on the amount of federal dollars given to school systems as mandated by No Child Left Behind,” Finn said.

The women put on three training sessions for those attending the meetings in March.

The meetings were used to recognize and discuss the various barriers that exist between the school system, parents, students and the community in general, Finn said.

“In order for any school system to be successful, consistent communication is essential,” he said. “We agreed that as a system we need to improve how we communicate with the community. We also agreed that communication is a two-way street and the community needs to be just as responsive to academic concerns as they are to athletic concerns.”

Those gathered acknowledged how well organized and committed the various sports booster groups are in this area, and that an academic booster group of some type could and should be formed to support the academic needs of all students in the community, Finn said.

“We recognized that the make-up of many families today in our community is very different than in the past and that many struggle with commitments they have to work, school, sports, and other extra-curricular activities,” he said. “We also recognized that there is a strong level of trust and respect that is shared between our community and the school system.”

He’s hoping parents and community members will branch out to get involved in academics and a partnership to develop a framework for the group.

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