News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 5, 2018
Union 76 signs special education sharing agreement

by Anne Berleant

School Union 76 has entered into an agreement with 21 other school districts or regional school units for certain special education students.

The Southern Penobscot Regional Program for Children with Exceptionalities (SPRCE) provides day treatment, alternative and individualized services in the Bangor area. Union 76 had once been a member, about 15 to 20 years ago, according to Superintendent Chris Elkington.

Member school districts may also enroll teachers and ed. techs. in a new Special Education Leadership Academy, allowing them to earn state certification and/or a master’s degree in special education through the University of Maine.

“We rejoined to look at taking advantage of hopeful regional efforts at supporting professional development and special education needs,” Elkington said.

Under the SPRCE agreement, members pay a percentage of the program budget that equals the percentage of Program students from that school administrative unit. Elkington said one student may enroll in services next year.

In the last two years, Maine Department of Education has offered funding and other incentives for schools that form or join regional service centers as a means to trim education costs and enhance services. RSU 25 (Bucksport, Orland, Verona Island, and Prospect) is also a pending SPRCE member for 2018-19.

“[We] looked at this as another opportunity to support our districts, as the overall purpose is to offer high quality programming for students and staff in a more efficient manner than addressing these needs by individual school districts,” Elkington said.

Elkington said that, as a SPRCE member, Union 76 also may be able to purchase goods in larger quantities, develop programs to improve professional development, and work together to support special education programming and costs. Union 76 comprises Deer Isle-Stonington, Brooklin and Sedgwick.

“We are the farthest, distance-wise, from Bangor, but still hope to take advantage of opportunities,” Elkington said.