News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, January 23, 2014
DISHS School board discusses communication, budget priorities

by Jessica Brophy

At its January 7 meeting, the Deer Isle-Stonington school board discussed the board’s communication with the public, as well as initial budget priorities for the 2014-15 budget.

At the start of the meeting, Superintendent Mark Jenkins said the board will no longer hear verbal reports from the various administrators, but rather receive the reports in writing. Industrial arts teacher Denis Saindon said he thought it was important for the reports to get to the public.

“The public needs to be informed,” said Saindon.

There was a brief discussion about ways to distribute the reports. High School Principal Todd West’s report is posted on the high school’s website. There was some discussion of distribution via an email list. Also discussed was the possibility of getting the agendas for public meetings published in the Island Ad-Vantages.

The board then discussed budget priorities for the 2014-15 school year. Board member Skip Greenlaw said the idea of establishing a formal pre-K program was “one bold thing we might do that would have some lasting impacts.”

Linda Nelson said she had some concern about local providers, but she didn’t disagree with the idea. She said she thought an 18-month timeline was a better idea than trying to put together a pre-K program for next fall.

Greenlaw said when the idea for a pre-K program came up several years ago, he also had concerns about existing daycare and preschool providers. “We certainly don’t want to affect business,” he said, adding that he had spoken with a few providers on the island who had agreed that there was a need for a pre-K program.

“It’s the one thing that has been talked about everywhere I’ve gone,” said Greenlaw. “It’s been the talk around the state for years.”

Nelson said she would like to see the issue of training for multi-age classrooms and differentiated learning put back on the table. It was an issue that came up a few years ago during budget season when there were questions about whether and how some classrooms could be combined.

“The teachers said then they would need a few years to implement it,” said Nelson, referring to the training and staff development that would be required.

Board member Stephen York suggested the possibility of making the current half-time Gifted & Talented position a full time one.

Nelson said she hopes the budget process looks at improving the curriculum and the quality of instruction rather than “throwing more people at it.”

The board also approved a list of goals for the next year for the superintendent. The list of annual goals includes implementing the provisions of the strategic plan, establishing a process for adopting a five-year strategic plan, completing a revision of the policy book, examining long-term staffing needs and devising a plan to address those needs, and to work with the leadership of the Island Teachers Association and the school committee to clarify contract language.

The board held an informal discussion about the school system’s curriculum in an open workshop session after the regular meeting. Nelson again stressed professional development. Discussion centered on the ways in which the Common Core standards are being interpreted and incorporated.

Next meeting:

Tuesday, February 4, 5:30 p.m., Deer Isle-Stonington High School cafeteria