DIXFIELD — The RSU 10 board will likely decide Monday whether to apply for a federal School Improvement Grant to help Mountain Valley Middle School boost student achievement.

The school recently was named one of 15 in the state to get funding priority. The federal Department of Education has invited each to apply for all or part of $1.7 million.

Assistant Superintendent Gloria Jenkins said the funding has some significant “strings” attached, including the requirement to fire Principal Ryan Casey.

“To fire a smart, productive (leader) would be counterproductive,” Superintendent Craig King said.

Jenkins said the middle school was selected as a priority because student scores for three years have not shown sufficient improvement.

“That doesn’t show the incredibly good things that school does,” she said. “There is so much more to a school than test scores.”

She said she doubts the board will vote to fire Casey.

In order to receive federal funding under the SIG grant, four options were given to priority schools. All include firing the school principal. One also calls for replacing half the teaching staff, another calls for converting the school to a charter school, a third would require closing the school and the fourth calls for comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extended learning time and other strategies.

“This is federal,” Jenkins said. “It’s very distant.”

Jenkins said when MVMS received an “F” on the controversial state report card last spring that affected all schools in the state, staff immediately began an in-depth self-evaluation and have devised between 50 and 60 items to study and possibly implement that could improve instruction and learning.

King said the options were very rigid.

“This assumes that the principal is responsible for everything. He is responsible for leadership, but there are many other factors (in student learning),” he said.

Jenkins said the list of options was forwarded to the Curriculum and Personnel committees for their comments, and will be presented at Monday’s board meeting.

“I would think we wouldn’t apply, but we need guidance from the board,” she said.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Dirigo Elementary School in Peru.


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