RSU 36 to draft plan to seek federal money for high school

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LIVERMORE — Regional School Unit 36 directors voted unanimously Tuesday to have school leaders draft a plan to improve high school students’ achievements and to use it to gain federal grant money to help follow through on the plan.

The vote reverses a decision made in March.

The board had previously voted 2-9 not to submit a letter of intent to go after the money, with directors, Mac Haynes and Denise Rodzen in favor of submitting the letter.

Livermore Falls High School was classified in March as one of 10 schools in the state that is persistently a low performing school based on federal criteria. The school must choose one of three plans that are legal in Maine to “implement robust and comprehensive reforms to dramatically transform school culture and increase student outcomes.”

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The board had opted out of the plan due to a requirement to get rid of high school Principal Shawn Lambert, who has been working with staff over the last four years on a path to increase students aspirations and achievements. Superintendent Judith Harvey and high school staff members recommended the rejection of the grant and the “strings attached.”

However, Lambert announced his intent to resign as principal last week and Harvey drove to Augusta and withdrew the board’s letter not to seek grant funds, and submitted a letter of intent to seek funds. The school is eligible to get more than $300,000 a year for three years to help with the effort.

The district has until May 7 to submit a plan for the federal funds.

The school board would need to approve the plan prior to it being submitted, Harvey said. If directors don’t like the plan, they may reject it, she said.

“Basically we‘re going to design a plan and the strings are we are accountable to the plan for increases in student achievement,” Harvey said.

They should learn by the end of May or beginning of June what the amount of grant money would be so that school staff can implement the plans during the summer, Director Jennifer Harvey said.

Board Vice-Chairman Mac Haynes reiterated what he had said previously.

“With any grant you get from anybody … there are going to be strings attached. You have to follow the plan. Don’t be afraid of the federal government. They’re trying to give money away, take it,” Haynes said.

Harvey said the group will be putting a plan together over the next four weeks. It would then go to faculty for input, and a survey or two would be done to get input from other stakeholders, she said.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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