RUMFORD — Regional School Unit 10 has received a $200,000 grant to provide social, emotional and mental health services to students at Rumford Elementary School for two years, Superintendent Deb Alden said at the school board meeting Monday.

“That will be very helpful to Rumford Elementary School because they are going to be able to fund a 20-hour a week position to help us with social, emotional and mental health behavioral (needs),” Alden said.

The grant is from Oxford County Mental Health Services of Rumford, which provides behavioral health services and education.

Meroby Elementary School has also received a grant — $3,500 for playground improvements. The money is from Learning by Nature for ME, an initiative sponsored by Child & Family Services of the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program. The grant was acquired through the efforts of teachers Kristen Giberson, Maggie Corlett and Heidi Ferguson, Alden said.

In other business, Alden addressed the chronic absenteeism rates that have plagued the district. Charts showed nearly 47 percent of Mountain Valley High School students were chronically absent in 2016-17, compared to nearly 42 percent in 2017-18.

Rates of chronic absenteeism in all six district schools have dropped, except Mountain Valley Middle School, which showed a 2.4 percent increase.

Alden said she and school administrators were reviewing how they report the rates because they found some students reported as absent were actually at classes at Region 9 Career and Applied Technology or on extended field trips.

In other news, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Leanne Condon presented a report on proficiency-based education, a system in which students are assessed on mastering skills, or standards, in eight subject areas.

“We want to make sure that our students have the skills and the knowledge; (and) when you pick up a report card that’s what you are learning, exactly what your students can do and what they know,” Condon said.

The school district has been using the grading system since 2005, Condon said.

She said RSU 10 teacher leaders prefer it.

“Our teachers are feeling like what we are doing right now and the direction we are headed is what is best for students,” Condon said.

The board also:

• Hired Brooke Cushing as a first grade teacher for Rumford Elementary School. She student-taught at Meroby Elementary School and received her degree from the University of Maine at Farmington this year;

• Hired Adrien Lemar as districtwide school psychologist. She received her doctorate at the University of Southern Maine this year;

• Hired Amy Peet as a music teacher for Hartford-Sumner Elementary School for one year to replace Meghan Andrews-Wright, who is on a leave of absence for a  third year. Peet received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Plymouth State University this year;

• Hired Mary Hersom as a fifth-grade teacher at Hartford-Sumner Elementary School. She taught in the Dixfield area for 31 years; and 

• Hired Rachel Caron as a third-grade teacher for Hartford-Sumner Elementary School. She taught at Wayne Elementary School and received a degree from UMF in 2017.

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Leanne Condon, left, director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for Regional School Unit 10, on proficieny-based learning Monday evening. (Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times)

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