PARIS — The SAD 17 board of directors approved a $39.97 million budget Monday night and an agreement with a Chinese high school to allow those students to get a diploma from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

The budget is $228,929 less than this fiscal year, which ends June 30. The Budget Committee recommended its passage.

The spending plan includes money for 2.5 social workers at the smaller elementary schools and several other positions.

The budget does not include subsidized costs for Maine Vocational Regional 11 because of a change in the funding formula for Career and Technical Education. That change  saved the SAD 17 budget $2.7 million.

The budget also was adjusted to reflect lower town assessments that range from .026 percent increase for Harrison to 5.5 percent for Otisfield.

In other news, directors authorized Chairman Ron Kugell to sign the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School/Zhejiang Normal University High School Articulation Agreement. The authorization came after a few directors questioned the logistics and costs of the agreement.

The agreement solidifies the continuing and growing relationship between the two schools that was established in 2007. It opens up the door for Zhejiang High School students who have completed three years of study in China to spend their fourth year at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris.

A delegation of SAD 17 administrators and students arrived in Jinhua, China last month to visit the district’s sister school, Zhejiang Normal University Middle School, and to negotiate the agreement.

Under the agreement, the students will receive a diploma from Zhejiang High School after three years of study and a diploma from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School after successfully completing their fourth year here.

Board member Kathy LaPlante of Harrison said the district is not saving money by bringing tuition-paying students.

“Please don’t coat it that we’re saving money,” she said.

A majority of directors also turned down a motion by Director Bob Jewell of Paris to table a proficiency based education policy. 

In 2012, state legislators passed a law that requires high school students to show they have mastered eight subject areas in order to earn a proficiency-based diploma: English language arts, math, science and technology, social studies, health education and physical education, visual and performing arts, career and education development, and world languages. Students must demonstrate mastery of the subjects before they progress to the next lesson, get promoted to the next grade level or receive a diploma.

Jewell argued that the community at large needs more information about the state mandate before the board takes a vote.

He and others said they have heard from some in the community who do not approve of the plan to replace the current grading system.

Kugell said the policy could be amended at any time. 

In other action the directors approved:

• Superintendent Rick Colpitts’ nominations of teachers for the 2018-19 school year, first-, second-and third-year probationary contracts, and continuing contracts;

• A trip for certain Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School students to visit Spain and France in the spring of 2020;

• The CAPS Alternative Education program trip to Hartland on June 12 and 13;

• A trip for Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School advanced placement biology students to the Franklin Park Zoo and the New England Aquarium, both in Boston, on May 21; and

• Approved a field trip to Boston for grade 5 students at Oxford Elementary School on June 14.

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