NEW SHARON — Cape Cod Hill School is starting its 2022-23 session as a Community School with new programming and services for students.

The Regional School Unit 9 Board of Directors voted April 12 to designate Cape Cod Hill a “community school.”

The designation is a Maine Legislature mandated program for a “public elementary or secondary school that participates in a community-based effort to coordinate and integrate educational, developmental, family, health and other comprehensive services through community-based organizations and public and private partnerships.

Those services should be offered to “students, families and the community” before, during and after school, over the weekends and through summers, according to Maine statute.

At that meeting, Cape Cod Hill School Principal Lisa Sinclair and RSU 9 Director of Curriculum Laura Columbia presented the idea to the board.

According to the presentation, the “criteria for eligibility is 40% economically disadvantaged youth.”


Cape Cod Hill School students come in at 44.8%, the presentation states.

In the months that followed, Sinclair, Columbia and other RSU 9 administrators went through a grant process to acquire $50,000 from the Maine Department of Education.

The New Sharon-based school, which also serves students from parts of Chesterville and Vienna, is one of five in the state that have received a grant from the DOE.

Following the first grant award, the district has the opportunity to apply for future funding every year, Sinclair said in an interview.

Without a grant, Columbia said the district will evaluate which programs were most successful and figure out what should potentially be included in the next school budget.

The grant process included surveying the community on the needs and desires of local families, setting goals, a plan and defining ways to measure the completion of those goals.


Those survey results concluded the community needs academic, health, social-emotional, and early-childhood support.

Columbia said the overall need for the Community School designation and the grant money was a lack of nearby services in the district’s “most rural school.”

“It’s a wonderful school, but it doesn’t have the same resources as in the towns, Farmington or Wilton schools just based on population,” Columbia said. “In general, a lot of the after-school activities are sometimes harder to do because of transportation in that area.”

For example, Columbia said Cape Cod Hill students aren’t able to access the after-school 21st Century program or programs at local recreational centers due to transportation issues.

Sinclair said a particular area of concern from parents was finding before- and after-school programs in an area that is lacking childcare services.

There’s “very few childcare options in that area,” no nearby Community Concepts for students above pre-kindergarten age, Columbia said.


“The lack of before- and after-school care is a hardship for parents who need to get to work say seven o’clock, and school doesn’t start till 8:30 a.m. It puts [parents] in a bind,” Sinclair said. “I often get requests for students to go to other schools where there is childcare. Now we’ll be able to keep our catchment kids because we will be able to offer that for families.”

Other high-need areas include access to enrichment programs, social workers, and healthcare services such as dental clinics.

Some of these services are ongoing, such as a dental clinic. Cape Cod Hill currently brings in the Tooth Protectors, “an organization of dental hygienists that provides preventative dental care” for communities.

“The idea is a kid coming to school with a toothache really can’t do their best at school,” Sinclair said.

New services include enrichment activities after school for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education (STEM), structured playgroups, homework clubs and sports offerings. Sinclair said there will also be a community action group which will pair teachers with a group of students to “identify problems in the community they want to address and help with,” Sinclair said.

Ultimately, Sinclair said the programs funded by the grant are intended to “increase [students’] learning.”

“It’s addressing the whole child,” Sinclair said. “We’re problem solving the different issues families have so that kids can attend to learning better.”

Sinclair is overall excited for the “amazing opportunity” coming to her school, the staff, students, families and overall community.

“This is a great community,” she said. “This provides them with the support to put them on an equitable playing field with a bigger community like Farmington.”

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