Resident suggests using technology to trim RSU 7 budget

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JAY — Jay resident Dan Ryder suggested reducing paper usage to save money in the RSU 73 budget in a presentation to the board of directors Thursday.

Ryder suggested having teachers use technology such as Remind, Class Dojo, Flipgrid One, and social media to send notices to parents. He pointed out that Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, YouTube, and other free products could be used to enhance classroom lessons.

However, Ryder said, the community culture toward technology must be changed.

“If we don’t have the culture in our community, it’s not going to work,” he said.

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Spruce Mountain Middle School teacher Rob Taylor agreed, and noted that professional development to help teachers use the aforementioned technology would be helpful.

“We need to fundamentally change the way we use technology in our district,” he said. “A lot of the things you’re talking about are banned on our network right now.”

“The aspect that I find frightening is the social media aspect,” Director Shari Ouellette said. “There has been so much bullying and you can’t control who accesses what.”

“I’m not suggesting you open up social media to every kid in the district,” Ryder said. “I appreciate the concern and there’s a way to mitigate those concerns.”

In his overview of the 2017-18 proposed budget, Superintendent Kenneth Healey said a Spruce Mountain High School digital arts position, a special education position and a Spruce Mountain Primary School teaching position have been put back into the budget after being slated for elimination. It results in a school budget totaling $18.12 million, as opposed to the 2016-17 figure of $18.80 million.

The budget also includes a curriculum coordinator, which Healey strongly endorsed.

“This particular position, in my professional opinion, is the most important position that will impact our students,” he said, explaining that the curriculum coordinator would help the school district meet performance-based education standards.

However, Jay resident Tanya DeMillo disagreed, saying the curriculum coordinator wasn’t giving the necessary direction to teachers in the lower grade levels. She suggested having the department heads do the curriculum work.

Healey said the curriculum coordinator had been hired just over one year ago and has been working diligently with the curriculum committees in the schools. He added that it would take time to see results.

“I see no hardships for the central office whatsoever, nothing,” said Livermore resident Jean Tardif, pointing out that no positions in the Superintendent’s Office were eliminated or reduced. “We’re making some horrible, horrible cuts.”

Director Amy McDaniel noted there was room to cut money from the maintenance budget and wondered why RSU 73 was advertising for maintenance positions. Healey said the school district needs more bus drivers and custodians to replace those who have resigned or retired.

“We’re cutting these hands-on classes that kids need,” McDaniel said.

She suggested having a custodial trades program in which high school students could perform some custodial work at a minimal cost. Healey said this would be a problem because RSU 73 must adhere to the bargaining agreement with custodians.

bmatulaitis@sunmediagroup.net

“We need to fundamentally change the way we use technology in our district.” — Spruce Mountain High School teacher Rob Taylor

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