RSU 36 to apply for $1.4M federal grant


LIVERMORE FALLS — Regional School Unit 36 directors voted 8-2 Thursday to apply for a federal grant of nearly $1.43 million over three years to improve high school students’ achievements.

Directors Diane Gould and Marie Josee Castonguay, both of Livermore, were opposed.

Livermore Falls High School was named a “persistently low achieving” school by officials earlier this year based on low SAT scores over three years. The school is one of 10 in the state classified as low performing and, therefore, eligible to apply for federal money to boost student achievement.

The money was to come at a cost of getting rid of the principal if that person had been there for more than two years. Initially the board voted not to apply for the money. However, the fact that high school Principal Shawn Lambert decided to take a position with another school system next year influenced the board’s position.

The federal funds also carry the requirement for students’ achievement to significantly improve during the first year of the funding.

Many high school staff members have committed to helping put together the grant application.

Great Schools Partnership Inc. was asked to help create a process to involve faculty and staff in a needs assessment.

The Great Schools Partnership is a nonprofit school-support organization committed to redesigning public education to improve the quality of learning for all students, according to its website. Its focus is not on a single classroom, school or district, rather it works at all levels of the educational system — from the classroom to the statehouse—as they work to shape America’s finest secondary schools, the site states.

If the district gets the grant, $52,000 has been factored into the grant budget to continue to work with the Partnership, according to the district‘s application.

Among the rigorous goals the application outlines is to increase the number of students meeting or exceeding the SAT reading assessment to 71 percent in year one and 93 percent in year three. It also seeks to increase the number of students meeting or exceeding the SAT math assessment to 54 percent in the first year and 89 percent in the third year

Twenty-seven percent of the Class of 2010 met or exceeded the SAT reading assessment standards in their junior year, according to the application. And 21 percent met or exceeded the math assessment standards.

The third goal is to increase the student success rate in grades nine and 10 to 75 percent in year one and 90 percent in year three, as measured by a decrease in course failure rates.

The grant money would not be able to be shared with Jay if the high schools consolidated, Harvey said. The district would be able to get year one of the grant money and not be able to accept the other two years, she said. They would not have to repay the money if that occurred, she said.

However, Livermore Falls High School could continue to get the other two years if the two systems consolidated and kept two high schools, incoming Superintendent Sue Pratt said.

Pratt commended the staff members that helped put the grant application together.

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