PERU — The RSU 10 board delayed a decision Monday on whether to apply for federal funds to help improve student achievement at Mountain Valley Middle School, because they want to know what acceptance would mean for the district.

The school was one of 13 in Maine cited as needing to boosting student test scores.

One of the requirements, if the district should decide to apply, is that the Principal Ryan Casey be removed from his position. Other options could call for the resignation of half the staff as well as the removal of Casey.

Rumford board member Tracey Higley said he couldn’t vote to apply for the funds.

Board member Brad Gallant of Rumford also said he couldn’t see voting to apply, “Unless data shows that the principal and half the staff are doing something wrong. We’re trying to align our curriculum.”

The three regions comprising RSU 10 are continuing to work to bring their curricula together.

Assistant Superintendent and Curriculum Coordinator Gloria Jenkins said the middle school is already doing many of the required steps that could increase student achievement. However, the school has not shown sufficient progress over three years.

She said the federal government has given the state $1.6 million to distribute to the one or several schools that apply.

She also said replacing the principal is not the solution for improved student scores.

Superintendent Craig King said any district that applies for and receives the funding must use it in a very narrowly defined way which no one knows right now.

“I recommend that we think about it and which principal this might affect. We need to separate the principal and the grant,” he said. “Do we want this grant to control the school?”

“I can’t imagine how this would help,” Tracey said.

Board member Marcia Chaisson believes improvements can be made without big, federal grants.

Dixfield representative Barbara Chow questioned what the status would be for the middle school if the district does not apply for the funds, suggesting that the school would remain a Title I and priority school.

Jenkins will learn more about the grant and its implications from the state Department of Education on Friday.

The board set a special budget workshop for Monday, March 31, in Mountain Valley High School’s library. The issue may come up then.

In other matters, resignations for the purpose of retirement were accepted from Mountain Valley High School foreign language teacher Catherine Charles, English teacher Dotty Peters and science teacher Thomas Wylie; Dirigo Middle School teacher Robert Staples; and Meroby Elementary School second-grade teacher Jane Gaudette.


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