RSU 9 scales back behavioral program

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Regional School Unit 9 Curriculum Coordinator Laura Columbia, Superintendent Tina Meserve, and board Chairwoman Cherieann Harrison discuss the new Pathway for All Learners alternative education program on Tuesday in Farmington. (Dee Menear/Franklin Journal)

FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors learned Tuesday that a program to help students with their behavior will only be available for kindergarten through second grade this coming year.

Money for the program, Pathways for All Learners, was approved for kindergarten through fifth grade students in the 2018-19 budget. However, the program was scaled back because of staffing shortages.

The board on Tuesday approved hiring an ed tech, social worker and educational analyst for the program.

The $461,403 budgeted will more than cover the expenses for this fiscal year, so what’s left will be carried forward to fiscal year 2019-20.

Curriculum Coordinator Laura Columbia said more staff is needed to include third, fourth and fifth grades.

“We have a very qualified ed tech and we will use the resources we have,” Columbia said. “We will make the program strong and expand on it next year.”

RSU 9 Superintendent Tina Meserve said a public forum on Proficiency-Based Education last week was attended by about 100 students, teachers, parents and community members.

She said some felt Proficiency-Based Education discourages high-achievement motivation and accountability because students can be assessed multiple times until they meet educational goals.

The Legislature passed a bill in 2012 that states students can earn a high school diploma after they show they’ve mastered specific skills in eight subjects: English, math, science and technology, social studies, health and physical education, visual and performing arts, world languages, and career and education development. Instead of grades A through F, many schools are switching to a 1 through 4 grading system.

Proficiency-Based Education was adopted by the RSU 9 board and instituted last year.

Meserve said the system has not changed what is taught, rather it allows clear learning targets and multiple opportunities for learning.

In considering whether to move forward with the new system or keep the traditional diploma, Meserve said she would not recommend the latter.

“My personal feeling is we need to push pause and build this plane before we take off,” Director Betsey Hyde of Temple said.

“I would propose we have another meeting totally devoted to a board discussion,” Director Iris Silverstein of Farmington said.

The board opted to set a meeting to continue discussion.

dmenear@thefranklinjournal.com

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