SAD 17 to try new math programs

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PARIS — School Administrative District 17 directors were told Monday night that the elementary and middle schools will pilot three new math programs in an attempt to find one that will improve students’ math skills.

Curriculum Director Heather Manchester told the board that 40 teachers volunteered to participate in the pilot math program, each using one of three new math programs in the upcoming school year. It is anticipated that by March of 2016, one of the programs will be selected. If funded, the program is approved, the new program will be implemented throughout the elementary and middle schools.

“We’ll have better math students,” said Math Transition Team member Errol Libby, who, along with Rowe Elementary School Vice Principal D.J. Thorne, made the presentation to the board.

Team members told the board that the math program that has been in use for the past 10 years or so quickly became outdated as the Common Core requirements changed at least three or four times. The program did not result in better math test scores as predicted.

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The new programs are being tested. Manchester said the next step will be teacher training in the programs, gathering data to determine how well each program works and a decision as to which will be the best fit for the district.

“It will be a rigorous process,” Manchester said.

In other news, the SAD 17 Board of Directors agreed to postpone a vote on a proposed revision to the school district’s hat policy following a 50-minute discussion on when and if students should be allowed to wear hats in the classroom.

The high school’s dress code, in part, forbids hats, hoods, bandanas and other types of head coverings in school during the day unless previously approved by the principal for religious reasons, special events or activities.

A group of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School students tried to convince directors that hats belong in the classroom, at the discretion of the classroom teacher and with the exception of certain events, including the Pledge of Allegiance, but board members disagreed not only on whether the policy was acceptable, but how it would be implemented.

Some directors, like new board member Colin O’Neill of Oxford, questioned how much involvement the board should have in specifying when hats should be removed.

Others spoke about the etiquette of hats and whether it is respectful to wear them in the classroom and in other school activities.

“Generations change,” Director Henry Raymond of South Paris said.

The majority of directors approved a a motion from Joe Vaillancourt of Otisfield to delay the vote until there was more “clarity” on the issue.

The directors will have two readings of the proposed policy and vote whether to implement it following the second reading. It may be amended before the final vote is taken.

The directors praised the students for their presentation and said they got a good lesson in civics.

SAD 17 directors also approved the continuation of a free lunch program for the 2015-2016 school year at the district’s eight elementary schools.

SAD 17 is participating in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a federally funded program that encourages schools to ensure no student goes hungry. The district is eligible because it has more than 40 percent of its students eligible for benefits from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families programs.

Sixty-three percent of all SAD 17 students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch last school year.

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