SAD 39 receives recommendations for boosting student test results

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BUCKFIELD – Recommendations on how SAD 39 students can best meet the Maine Learning Results were presented to the school board Wednesday by an ad hoc committee assigned to research the issue.

The school board decided to study the eight-page report and be prepared to take action on its recommendations during their February meeting. The ad hoc committee has been meeting since March of 2005 to work on the recommendations.

The themes that came out of the study were:

• SAD 39 qualifies as a small school.

• While larger schools offer greater course opportunities, larger is not necessarily better.

• School closure does adversely impact the community.

• Small schools are considered by some to be more efficient for learning but not as cost effective.

• High school diploma is necessary for success in life.

• Consolidation of administrative functions will have a more positive impact on cost with less interruption of students needs.

• Lower income students have better outcomes in smaller schools.

• The majority of residents support status quo.

• Communication and strong leadership are necessary for any school.

• Consolidation is expensive.

• Accountability at all levels is necessary for education success.

• Parent involvement provides greater student performance.

• Graduation rates are highest among smaller schools.

Based on the common themes found in the research of various structures, the committee recommended two strategies, which are compatible with the communities’ desire to maintain local control, maintain a physical presence and maximize the efficiency of tax dollars.

The committee recommended SAD 39 seek to maximized regional opportunities to enhance programs and services to save money without compromising the current pre-kindergarten-to-grade-12 structure.

It also recommends that, if regionalized programs and services are not available or cost-effective, the district should seek to consolidate with another school district under an agreement that maintains SAD 39’s existing buildings and community presence.

The panel found opposing viewpoints that pitted meeting and enhancing existing programming in order to address student needs against reducing programs in order to limit the impact on local property taxes.

The committee was nearly unanimous that student needs be considered first. It generalized from community feedback that residents do not favor consolidation of SAD 39 into another school district.

SAD 39 already partners with SAD 17 for adult and vocational education as well as diesel fuel and bus repairs.

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