PARIS — The Oxford Hills School District will host the second Blue Ribbon Commission on Education meeting at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School on Monday, June 6.

The commission’s purpose is to identify solutions to lower the cost of public education and improve student performance. It will submit a report to the governor and the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.

Superintendent Rick Colpitts said the meeting will be held in the Forum, which holds 200 people. 

Dede Gilbert of the state education commissioner’s office said no information was available yet on the time of the meeting.

The commission’s first meeting was hosted by Gov. Paul Lepage at the Blaine House on April 25. His staff denied public entry, saying it was an executive commission and only those invited to attend would be allowed in.

Colpitts said not much happened during that first meeting. “It was mostly a meet and greet,” he said.

“Most of us sitting in the room had no idea the governor had kept people out,” Colpitts told the School Administrative District 17 board of directors recently.

Since the controversial meeting, the commission announced it would meet at the Paris high school and the public would be admitted.

Colpitts said he believes the commission has potential to positively impact K-12 funding and improve opportunities for children all across the state.

“The commission needs to find its footing before taking the helm of any change by reviewing the excellent work of prior commissions and study groups,” he said.

Commission Chairman and Deputy Education Commissioner Bill Beardsley said in a statement following the first meeting that in the past 15 years:
 
• state funding formula expenses for public preK–12 education have risen by 51 percent;
 
• local expenditures on public preK–12 education have risen by 75 percent; and
 
• total preK–12 education enrollments have fallen by 34,000 to about 178,000 students.

At the same time, he said, students in wealthier schools and counties, in terms of family income, have significantly higher academic achievement than students in lower-income schools and counties.

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Blue Ribbon Commission on Education members

• Bill Beardsley, deputy education commissioner and commission chairman

• Garrett P. Mason, R-Lisbon, Senate Majority Leader

• Justin L. Alfond, D-Portland, Senate Minority Leader

• Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, House Assistant Majority Leader

• Kenneth W. Fredette, R-Newport, House Minority Leader

• Jana F. LaPoint, member, State Board of Education

• Tayla Edlun, 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year

• Michael Wilhelm, Maine Charter School Commission

• Robert T. Callahan, director, Lewiston Regional Technical Center

• Douglas Larlee, educator for 40 years

• Joshua Reny, assistant city manager, South Portland

• Richard P. Colpitts, superintendent, SAD 17, Paris

• James H. Page, chancellor, University of Maine System

• Derek P. Langhauser, president, Maine Community College System


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