LEWISTON — The School Committee took on summer school and sports programs Monday evening, as well as the possibility of sending a student to Washington.

Cross country head coach T.J. Niles asked to take his state champion team to the New England championships in Manchester, N.H. He also requested to take their individual female qualifier to the competition, which was met with unanimous approval.

Brian York, a specialist with the Lewiston Regional Technical Center Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, introduced one of his students and requested permission for him to attend an all-inclusive national conference in Washington, D.C.

Senior Issak Hussein was one of six students chosen statewide in the competitive program and one of only 400 nationwide selected to attend the conference. Hussein is the president of Lewiston’s Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program and a member of the Young Entrepreneurs and the soccer team.

Hussein, as a member of JMG, a division of Jobs for America’s Graduates, will go to the nation’s capital at the end of November to sharpen leadership skills, practice team building and tour the city. The committee unanimously granted permission.

Lewiston Middle School Principal Shawn Chabot asked the committee to consider allowing a second girls’ softball team.

The committee approved such a team for seventh- and eighth-graders.

Chabot said the program would be parent-funded for the first three years, and after that the need for school funding would be assessed.

Lewiston Chief Academic Officer Sue Martin presented the current state of affairs and future plans of the Lewiston Summer School programming.

Calling the committee’s attention to a phenomena known as the “summer slide,” Martin said retention of a year of schooling is lost over extended breaks, such as summer vacation. She pointed out a more prevalent slide among children from lower income households as opposed to middle- and upper-income homes.

Martin displayed charts with graphics which said, “Parents with the means invest more time and money than ever before in their children, while lower income families, which are now more likely to be headed by a single parent, are increasingly stretched for time and resources.”

This concept prompted a response from committee member Sonia Taylor.

“I just find this screwy,” Taylor said. Middle-class parents don’t necessarily have excess means, but are simply using more of “their own money to help their children get educated in the way that they want,” she said.

She said that regardless of income, there are families in tact who want to engage their children in learning and find the means to do so.

She said that many parents with the resources have little time to spend with their children because they are working.

“I know a lot of single parents who should have a whole lot of time to spend with their kids because they’re not working,” Taylor said.

Current funding for summer programming in Lewiston costs around $800 per student with no increases in infrastructure. Summer programs are primarily paid for through local funds, Title I, Title III and school-improvement grants, according to Martin.

Martin proposed pursuing a grant through the J.T. Gorman Foundation to help fund the summer programs as well as directly targeting getting students reading on grade level by the fourth grade.

According to the Gorman Foundation website, its mission “advances ideas and opportunities that can improve the lives of disadvantaged people in Maine.”

After a brief discussion, the committee unanimously approved seeking a grant through the foundation.

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