PHILLIPS — RSU 58 Business Director Luci Milewski told the school board Thursday night that they should be prepared for state budget cuts that could mean less money for education.

State budget decisions in June could require the directors to revise plans for the 2014-15 fiscal year if there are large cuts. The Maine Department of Education has released budget information with the caveat that the education subsidy amounts are only preliminary.

“A $9.5 million reduction has been discussed in earlier state reports, and we don’t believe it has been included in this preliminary” report, Milewski said. Should that reduction be enacted, it will certainly change the subsidy report, she said.

In other business Thursday night, Mt. Abram High School Principal Marco Aliberti explained the significance of changes in graduation requirements for all students by 2018. He suggested parents, teachers, administrators, students and career and technical educators visit the website to lean more about the proficiency-based standards that all schools will adopt.

According to the DOE handout distributed at the meeting, students will be able to report that they understand academic expectations more clearly and can identify their own strengths and weaknesses in relation to those expectations. Students will also be better able to connect what they are doing in a classroom activity or assignment to the acquisition of skills and knowledge. Mastery of skills and content will be determined by teachers and administrators.

“How we put this together is up to us,” he said.

Superintendent Brenda Stevens said new proficiency-based standards will provide more transparency for the entire educational system.

“It’s a different way of teaching,” she said.

Teachers have had to follow a traditional grading standard that might not reflect the true accomplishments of each child. Teaching parents about this transition will be very important, Aliberti said.

Methods of teaching students today may be very different from those familiar to parents, Aliberti said. For example, Mt. Abram High School math instructor Brian Twitchell recently showed the board how he puts much of his curriculum on a website for students to study in the evening. The next day, students can demonstrate they have learned the concepts, work on examples and get help with problems. The method allows students to learn at their own pace and use classroom time for demonstrating their understanding of the subject.

The directors requested that Aliberti and other administrators make formal presentations on the new standards and related concepts at future board meetings.

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