Vulnerable students at risk

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On May 4, the Auburn School Committee approved a series of cuts to the school budget, including seven teaching positions. These cuts are being recommended, reluctantly, and at the behest of the City Council — School Committee members are quick to point out — at the same time the School Department is recommending several new initiatives, including the highly unpopular iPad program.

While scrapping the iPads alone wouldn’t solve the School Department’s budgetary problems, the $50,000 earmarked for that pilot program could save one program that serves as a lifeline for dozens of students each year. The proposed budget calls for cutting one alternative teacher. That teacher would come from the Franklin/Merrill Hill alternative school, which serves students from both Auburn and Lewiston who, for any number of reasons, are unable to succeed in a mainstream school environment.

If a teaching position is cut from this school, the program will be restricted to high school grades.

Anyone familiar with child development knows that the earlier you catch a child who is faltering, the greater the chance that child will succeed. Down through the years, the unique learning atmosphere and individualized attention offered at Merrill Hill have provided countless middle school students with the skills they need to transition back into a traditional classroom and, ultimately, graduate from high school.

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Losing that program would be a tragedy for the community, and would send a message that the city of Auburn has no concern for its most vulnerable students.

Jaime McLeod, Lewiston

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