LEWISTON — The School Committee voted 8-1 Monday evening to establish a subcommittee to come up with a plan to reduce the impact of generational poverty on Lewiston students.

The plan would be fashioned after the Harlem Children’s Zone, a New York City nonprofit organization.

Committee member Tina Hutchinson was the sole person who voted against the motion.

During the committee’s Feb. 11 meeting, Chairman Mark Cayer brought up the possibility of sending a team from Lewiston to receive training in New York City.

The Harlem Children’s Zone, according to its website, works to combat the impact of generational poverty on students and help students attain success by offering after-school and community-based programs from pre-kindergarten all the way through college.

Cayer said Monday, “There’s a lot of work happening in our community around poverty,” and “one of the groups noticeably absent at the table is anybody from the Lewiston public schools.”


“We have a lot of these organizations doing work in our community around poverty, and I’m not sure our presence is as strong as it should have been,” Cayer said.

The Poverty Awareness Subcommittee would take the training and figure out how to adapt it to best serve the community, Cayer said.

Peter Geiger agreed to serve as chairman of the subcommittee, Cayer said, and Julia Sleeper, founder and director of Tree Street Youth, agreed to be a member.

Cayer said funds are being raised outside of the school budget to support the training. The cost and timing are being figured, he said.

Hutchinson questioned whether the School Committee should be taking the lead on the subcommittee and said she believes it should be a “city-led subcommittee.”

“We take the lead on so many things,” Hutchinson said. “I’m afraid that this might put more on our plate in the future. I can’t support putting more on the plate of school board members until we start taking care of the stuff we already do.”


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