Alternative Organizational Structure 98 Superintendent Keith Laser on Sept. 11 announced efforts toward a more profound partnership with Boothbay Sea and Science Center. BSSC President Pauline Dion spoke about current collaborations inside and outside the classroom and how work with Maine Science Volunteers can help expand education on aquaculture and other marine science topics.
“(BSSC) is my creation. I came up with the idea in 2011 when I decided it would be good to have a community sailing program that had marine science included in it,” said Dion. “We started in 2013, we opened our doors to 24 students and we had one fixed-keel boat, one turnabout … and three rowboats. There was one staff member.”
A current program involving aquaculture involves five schools: Southport Central, Edgecomb Eddy, Boothbay Region Elementary, Wiscasset Middle High and Whitefield Elementary. The program, which has students planting seaweed and studying its growth and makeup after harvest, runs from November to mid-May.
Dion said the program has blossomed into a staff of 17, four fixed-keel boats, 10 turnabouts, eight rowboats and a full-day, eight-week program that operates from Ocean Point Marina. Staff is from Maine Maritime Academy and various colleges, said Dion.
“But we want to go big,” said Laser. “We want to go much larger.”
Dion wanted to see if there is anything more BSSC can do to help the schools expand access to marine science education. So, Laser and Dion announced the schools will partake in a pilot program called After School Science through BSSC with Maine Science Volunteers, beginning in January.
Concerns about administration
Parent Tom Perkins shared his concerns over the superintendent’s administration, including budget handling and the high school’s standard of 60 percent for a passing grade. “Bottom line, based on all that has transpired in the past 13 months, I just don't trust the current administration to make unilateral decisions that are in the best interest of our children. I'm here to ask you all as a board what steps are you and the trustees going to take to protect us, the stakeholders, from being harmed by the influence of any administrator who acts like they have no vested interest in the success of our schools going forward?”
Committee Chair Larry Colcord said not all the committee’s decisions will be universally liked by the public, but the committee should be trusted to make the best decisions for students.
Perkins was also concerned about the Sept. 25 bid deadline for a master plan for the schools’ future, and about the superintendent evaluation process. AOS 98 Board Chair John Bertolet said evaluation is on the agenda for the next AOS 98 meeting, likely Sept. 30, but that the public should keep an eye out for a date.
Boothbay Region High School and BRES principals Dan Welch and Shawna Kurr announced enrollment numbers: BRHS has 176 students and BRES has 298. Special Services Director Lisa Smith shared that 36 students or 20% of BRHS students are enrolled in special services and 66 (or 22%) BRES students are. Smith said the numbers are high when looking at the state and national average, but the CSD is about in the middle of the pack in Midcoast Maine.