News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, March 9, 2023
DISHS principal resigns
Superintendent cites “personal reasons” at CSD 13 meeting

by Maggie White

Deer Isle-Stonington High School principal William Emery resigned earlier this week effective immediately. During the CSD 13 monthly meeting on March 7, School Union 76 Superintendent Dan Ross cited the unexpected decision to be a result of personal reasons. “Mr. Emery’s resignation was sudden. We will be advertising the position and in the meantime the Superintendent will be leading a team of staff that will ensure the HS functions smoothly and students are supported,” said School Board Chair Jane Osborne in a March 8 email.

Emery was hired in the summer of 2022 following the resignation of Laura Davis, who had been in the position for one year. Ross was unavailable for comment and Emery could not be reached by press time.

CSD-13 monthly meeting

After Osborne called Tuesday’s meeting to order, she issued a reminder that it was a business meeting and not a community forum. “We will not be doing give and take,” she said, adding that all are welcome to bring questions to the board at other times and that anyone wishing to speak would have one opportunity with a three-minute limit.

Additions to the agenda included Ross’ approval for hiring a full-time school guidance counselor and the plan for an interim Special Education director through the end of the school year.

The former position ties to NWEA scores, according to Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School Principal Vince Alvelo. In his presentation on recent student scores, which had generally gone down between 5 and 10 percentage points in both reading and math since the fall testing, Alvelo identified a need for help with social-emotional learning. “To learn,” Alvelo said, “children must feel comfortable and safe. That is the heart of where we need to help the students.”

The hiring of a full-time guidance counselor was identified as a necessary factor. While Alvelo said they are “not where we want to be” in terms of the test scores, “they do have a plan.” NWEA is a computer-adapted test where correct answers lead to more challenging questions and incorrect answers yield easier followups.

Regarding the Special Education coverage, Osborne requested that the board support Ross in hiring former Special Education educator Kathy Glennon as a half-time interim director. Ross is meeting with another “internal candidate” within the union to step into the other half of the position.

There is no update on the insurance claim filed after damages from burst pipes in February, though Ross affirmed that all paperwork had been submitted with receipt acknowledged. Osborne said that there is a state-wide backlog as they are processing 19 claims of similar nature.

Alternate prom locations are being considered as the bleachers are being redone in the gym, and a possible change to the graduation time (not the date) is in the works due to a same-day conflict with George Stevens Academy.

During the budget priorities discussion for 2023-24, board member Chelsea Torrey brought up the need for a preschool program, saying that it should be non-income based, would help NWEA scores, and is crucial for a lot of parents and school staff members.

“It’s going to be a mixture of cost and process,” responded Osborne. “As has been for the past few years, we have to balance the programs we need to provide with not increasing the budget exponentially. The communities can’t afford that.”

The possibility of a collaboration with Head Start was suggested from someone connected to that organization, and Ross will be investigating that avenue.

A presentation was given in support of moving the eighth grade from the high school to the elementary school, and included the subtopics Developmental Concerns, Academic Rigor, Extracurriculars, Staff Workload and K-8 and 9-12 Moving Forward. Some points made were that eighth grade is a crucial year for gaining self-confidence and motivation, that intimate relationships between eighth and 12th graders are inappropriate, and that attention span is lower for younger students.

Said Osborne, “There are more logistical items that need further clarification, including questions about space and staffing. We’ll be discussing again in April.”

The school’s biggest fundraiser, Empty Bowl, will be on Friday, March 17, from 5-7 p.m. Bowls will be made by students and local potters. Anyone interested in cooking, serving or attending is encouraged to reach out. More information available on school’s Facebook.