SAD 44 to get $1 million in grant help next year
The SAD 44 administration got some news it was hoping for last week: the district has been invited to join a $25 million, five-year ongoing federal/state grant program that focuses on school environment, educator evaluation, professional growth and data management.
One of four Maine school districts that began the program “Maine Schools of Excellence, Teacher incentive Fund” last fall dropped out and SAD 44 has been approved by the Department of Education to take its place.
Supt. Dave Murphy told the School Board Monday there is not yet an exact budget for the district, “but I will estimate that between now and the end of next June we will receive $1 million.”
The K-12 effort will be directed by a to-be-hired project director, and will also include such resources as teacher leaders, facilitators, technology support (including up to 20 iPads, video equipment and training), assessment, professional development, student and parent involvement/surveys, support from outside agencies and travel costs.
The program includes financial incentives for school staff for meeting certain goals. The funding will also pay for substitute teachers to allow staff to observe each other’s teaching methods.
Murphy said to qualify for the program schools must have more than 50 percent of the student population financially eligible for free or reduced hot lunch. He said that means some districts might have one school eligible and another one not. But in SAD 44, all five schools qualify. “One of the reasons we looked very attractive to this grant is because we’ll be able to tackle this with our entire district,” he said.
Because the district is joining the program in the second year, there will be a need to play catchup, he said, but some funding will be provided for that as well. And, said Murphy, there will be an opportunity to learn from and collaborate with other districts in the program. Teacher training will begin this summer, he said.
He also said it would be important to build sustainability into the program for when the funding ends, to at least preserve the most important pieces.
Woodstock Director Marcel Polak echoed that theme.
“I think it’s going to be critical to move ahead on our own,” he said, citing ongoing efforts at Telstar, such as a dual enrollment program with Central Maine Community College. “We are going to be on our own afterwards, and it’s really up to us with our own resources. This is going to be very supportive.”
The School Board then voted unanimously to join the program.
Among other agenda items, Maintenance Supervisor Ron Deegan updated the board on progress of the Telstar energy and air quality project and directors approved the vote totals from the June 11 district budget validation referendum.
The board also said good-bye to Andover Director Keith Smith, who is retiring.