BETHEL — The SAD 44 board of directors held a public discussion on the new Telstar Regional High School/University of Maine 4-H Learning Center program Monday night at the school library.

During its July 14 meeting, the board voted 15-1 to approve the program, which Superintendent David Murphy said would “get more freshman students off-site and participating in innovative learning programs at the Learning Center” beside Lake Christopher in Woodstock.

Murphy said the state recently decided that the Class of 2018 will be the first to receive a standards-based diploma and the program was a “step in that direction.”

“There’s been some questions that have come up in the community, and I thought that it’d be good to have a place for citizens to ask any questions they have,” Murphy said. “We had a good back-and-forth Monday night, and the input that we received was very positive.”

Murphy said there are about 10 sessions scheduled from now to December where the parents of ninth grade students will be able to meet and discuss logistical issues of the program and ways to streamline it.

“The board’s purpose is to make sure that the program meets the needs of our students,” he said. “We’ll be using the information that we got from this discussion as part of the conversations that we’ll have during those 10 sessions.”

The program is tentatively scheduled to begin during the fall semester of the 2014-15 school year, Murphy said.

In other business, the board voted to hire Sara Johnson as a second grade teacher for Woodstock Elementary School for the 2014-15 school year.

“This is Sara’s first teaching assignment,” Murphy said. “She currently works for the Mahoosuc Kids Association, which is an after-school summer program in the Bethel area.”

The board also voted to hire Cheryl Lang as Telstar Regional High School dean of students. Lang previously was a literacy coach for SAD 17, Murphy said.

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