Dirigo High School junior Isaiah Campbell, left, advanced placement government teacher Kurt Rowley and senior Abigail Therriault ask directors of Regional School Unit 56 in Dixfield on Tuesday for permission for the class to attend the play “Hamilton” in Boston in March. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

DIXFIELD — The director of special services for Regional School Unit 56 told directors at their meeting Tuesday that the district is below the state average for the number of special education students being served.

Heidi Connelly, director of special services for Regional School Unit 56, addresses directors Tuesday night at Dirigo High School in Dixfield about the number of students being served. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

Heidi Connelly said 132 of the 752 students in RSU 56 are receiving such services.

“That puts us at about 17.5% of our total student population,” she said. “The average for the state of Maine last reported was 2021 and that was 19.4%. So, we are below the state average; we are above the national average, which is at about 15% right now.”

Connelly said 11 students are receiving services outside of the district: six at Margaret Murphy Centers for Children in Auburn and five who are at the Western Foothills Regional Program in Rumford.

She said the program is “really lucky to be fully staffed with certified teachers,” but there are some openings for educational technician IIIs and for a technology director.

In other business, the board of directors approved a new job description for the district, titled learning facilitator. Superintendent Pam Doyen described the new position as “more like a stop-gap position.” She noted that it’s difficult to hire certified teachers and educational technicians and that the new position would allow the district to hire employees as learning facilitators who would then have a year to become certified as either teachers or ed techs.

“The complicated part of this is that it’s not a position that we would post (as a job opening).” The district would advertise for positions such as educational technician III and if they have a good candidate for the position, but the candidate is not certified for the position, they could be hired as a learning facilitator, Doyen said.

In other business, directors granted teacher Kurt Rowley’s request for the advanced placement government class to attend the play “Hamilton” at the Citizens Bank Opera House in Boston in March.

Rowley, with Dirigo High School junior Isaiah Campbell and senior Abigail Therriault, asked the board for permission. Therriault said it will “provide context for a number of concepts in AP government.”

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