RUMFORD — Directors of Regional School Unit 10 on Tuesday hired Cheryl Gurney as principal of Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico. The decision followed an executive session.

Gurney has taught at the school since 2010 and was assistant principal since 2012. She succeeds Ryan Casey, who resigned in May.

In other news, Superintendent Deb Alden reported on the 2021-22 standardized tests scores for elementary, middle and high school students. According to the overall scores, most students who scored in the average and above range made improvements since being tested in the fall and again in the spring.

“So, what we need to look at is those kids that are falling way low” (in scoring),” Alden said. “And that would indicate we need to really look at the intervention (teaching strategies) that we’re doing.”

In other business, three community members and a teacher expressed their views on student learning and sexuality.

Carol Daigle and Heather MacDonald have spoken regularly at board meetings since March, disagreeting with the district’s curriculum on matters of race and sexuality.

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Daigle asked Alden and directors if students had sufficient time for learning when they receive Social Emotional Learning classes and others relating to diversity and inclusion.

“Could someone please tell me if there is sufficient time during the school day to actually educate students in math writing, reading, science and social studies?” Daigle asked.

Alden responded with an emphatic yes.

Darcy Klein attended the meeting at Mountain Valley High School and played a video in which she described herself as “a concerned citizen, a veteran, and the director of a growing local home-school support group.” She said parents have an “increasing concern and distaste for the overreach and complacency by the public school system, particularly in relation to the school board’s not listening to the parents and forcing inappropriate material and damaging policies onto the students via programs with misleading titles.”

MacDonald asked directors, “Why are you encouraging children who are not naturally a part of the LGBTQ community to adopt lifestyle that only serves to increase their suicide? Why is the gender unicorn questionnaire, which asks fifth-graders about sexual preferences, repeatedly being used?”

Debbie Carver, a teacher at Mountain Valley High School and a member of the district’s Equity Committee, said, “First, I want to publicly stand with our LGBTQ+ students, staff and community here that reside in RSU 10 as well as those of us who know and love an LGBTQ person in our lives. It has been difficult over the last few school meetings having to hear hurtful harmful misinformation and associations being made addressing LGBTQ issues.”

She asked directors to create an official statement to “welcome all students regardless of their color, their ethnicity, their gender, etc., and that we will stand by them.”

At the end of the meeting at Mountain Valley High School, Abbey Rice of Rumford said, “I would like to express my unwavering support as a school board member and as a member of this community and as a parent, to the LGBTQ+ community. You are loved, you are supported, and you are welcomed.

“It is our job as a school district not to change, indoctrinate or shame the students we have responsibility for. It’s our job to accept, love and protect the students so they can feel secure enough to learn,” she said. “That is why we are all here; for students to learn.”


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