LRHS principal: No surprises in re-accreditation report

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

As Principal Erik Good flipped through the 102-page report filed by a visiting accreditation team, he saw no real surprises.

In his brief tenure at Lake Region, Good quickly discovered a strong school culture and leadership existed.

He also knows the school is undergoing a major transition in regards to curriculum, moving toward “proficiency-based” learning. Students will need to prove they have mastered a skill before moving ahead to the next chapter of their education.

As school board members will review findings by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Good and his staff will continue their march to make Lake Region a top-flight educational institution.

“There was no surprises as to what they had to say,” Good told directors at Monday’s board meeting held at the Lake Region Vocational Center. “They said what I expected them to say. They cited work that we already know we need to do.”

Based on their findings, NEASC has accredited the school, SAD 61 Superintendent Al Smith reported.

While Good plans to go more in-depth with directors, possibly at a workshop meeting regarding what steps will be taken to address various recommendations by the NEASC visiting group, he gave a quick overview. Key points were:

  • Lake Region earned 65 commendations. Most commended was school culture and leadership (16), while the category receiving the fewest was instructional (6).

The school was cited for special events, technology resources such as Infinite Campus (where parents can check on student grades) as well as student interaction with the community.

From a programming standpoint, the school received kudos for its support efforts such as a 35-minute period in the middle of the day when students can meet with teachers to find out areas they need to work on.

The school was also cited for work done by staff members in Special Education, custodial, library media, school counselors and school nurse.

  • The report included 46 recommendations. Most was in the area of assessment (10) and curriculum (nine). The least was school leadership (three).

From a physical plant standpoint, the visiting team felt improvements are needed in the science lab, music room and locker room, connected to the gym.

On the educational front, the team encouraged continued work toward proficiency-based learning, as well as gearing curriculum toward 21st century learning expectations (more inquiry-based approach).

Other improvement areas included teaching techniques, assessing methods and curriculum.

In other school board news:

How to make up snow days? With SAD 61 owing three school days due to snowstorm cancellations, district officials have decided to eliminate a teacher workshop day set for March 3, as well as extend the school day by an hour the weeks of March 13 and March 20.

Superintendent Smith said April 14 was another day the district could use, but he would rather keep it out of the equation right now since Mother Nature has been known to whip up a storm or two in March to prolong winter.

Smith must gain permission from the state’s education commissioner to enact the longer school days, but he doesn’t expect any problems.

While the later day will mean students riding the bus will arrive home later, directors noted that daylight still exists after 5 p.m.

Spring sports don’t start rolling until March 20 when pitchers and catchers report, while other teams begin March 27.

One problem could be students who work after school. Another problem is how the hour will be used at the Vocational Center, since sending school students from Fryeburg Academy and Sacopee Valley will leave LRVC at their normal time.

“While a Saturday would have worked better for the Vocational Center, unfortunately, I have to look at the entire district of 1,800 kids,” the superintendent said. “The Vocational Center is not happy (with the one-hour extension), but sometimes that happens.”

As for how the extra hour of school time will be used, Smith said each building principal will decide how to incorporate that hour into the school day.

Time to move on. As more and more time passes, the old Bridgton Memorial School falls into greater deterioration.

Superintendent Smith believes it is time to address the matter.

Currently, the building is used as a storage facility for district equipment and other items.

The Town of Bridgton would like to take over the property, and likely demolish the old school building in favor of new construction, possibly a rec center, Bridgton Selectman Bernie King told the school board.

SAD 61 could enter a partnership with the town when developing such building plans, possibly including meeting room space, which could house Adult Ed programming.

“We need to move on from it,” Casco Director and Facilities Committee member Phil Shane said. “There’s a lot of stuff in that building, some salvageable and some that can be thrown away.”

The superintendent will meet with Bridgton Town Manager Bob Peabody to discuss the matter.

New offer. The Town of Sebago has been granted an extension by the Maine Department of Education regarding withdrawal from SAD 61. The new date is May 18, 2017.

Meanwhile, the town’s Withdrawal Committee has crafted a new proposal to SAD 61. Superintendent Smith said that proposal is being reviewed by the district’s lawyer, and the proposed terms will be discussed by SAD 61 Withdrawal Committee members in the near future.

Inductions. LRMS Principal Matt Lokken reported that 41 students were to be inducted into the National Junior Honor Society yesterday. Grade 7 had 10 inductees, and Grade 8 had 31.

College credits are available through the Adult Ed’s College Transition Program. Adult Ed Director Madelyn Litz said CTP offers a one-credit (16 hours, equivalent to a freshman seminar course which colleges are requiring) course through Central Maine Community College, and a three-credit (45 hours) course through Southern Maine Community College.

Drug awareness. Adult Ed is teaming up with the Lakes Region Substance Abuse Coalition to hold a special information session on Wednesday, March 29 from 6 to 8 p.m., either in the Lake Region High School auditorium or Lake Region Vocational Center’s Great Room.

Speakers will include law enforcement and medical staff. Litz asks that people interested in attending the session to contact her at Adult Ed (627-4291).

Casco Director Phil Shane suggested that a similar session be offered to high school students.

“It is a crisis,” Shane said.

Bridgton Director Karla Swanson-Murphy felt the messages should be brought to students at all levels — middle and elementary schools.

New location. Litz also noted that an agreement has been reached with the Bridgton Public Library to hold some adult ed programming there on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Resignations. Genevieve Morse, a science teacher at Lake Region Middle School, submitted her intent to resign at the end of the school year.

Paula Jondro, a special education teacher at Songo Locks School, submitted her intent to resign at the end of the school year.

Appointments. Danielle Woodbury was appointed a day treatment support technician at Songo Locks School, replacing Kate Dargie, who resigned. There were eight applicants, four were interviewed.

Abigale McPhee will be a long-term substitute Grade 3 teacher, effective about April 12, replacing Marie Meserve. There were 17 applicants, three were interviewed.

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