Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor CSD School Committee on Oct. 9 announced a leave of absence for Boothbay Region High School Principal Dan Welch. Superintendent Keith Laser recommended Boothbay Region Elementary School Assistant Principal Tricia Campbell to continue principal's duties at BRHS until Welch's return.
“That's all I can say,” Chair Larry Colcord said of the announcement. “We wish Dan the best.”
Committee members voted unanimously for Campbell to take the interim job at BRHS.
Education Service Center update
Maine Department of Education has notified Laser the request to become an Education Service Center was accepted and Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 can continue the process.
“Part one was just seeing if the DOE thinks our ideas are sound. I shot for the moon. Now I have to work on part two … get more definitive on what it is we're looking for.”
Member Bruce MacDonald said it is essentially about “getting the state to help pay for some of the collaborative work” already being done. Laser explained during the AOS 98 meeting, having an ESC will pay for 55% of the director's salary, presumably the superintendent job, and pay $96 per student or approximately $60,000.
Good news, bad news
Special Services Director Lisa Smith said social work providers are doing an excellent job, but have more work than can be reasonably expected. “We're able to take advantage of the Lincoln County Health people … but my full-time person has a caseload of 51 which is above where she should be.”
Smith said the provider is working with up to 11 kids a day in four schools and is involved in the Student Health Advisory board; the gay/straight alliance group; and gatekeeper training for teachers. Smith reminded committee members, students often go without services when these providers are needed elsewhere, and she is considering this as budget season approaches.
The CSD is part of a pilot program to increase literacy for students who struggle with traditional media, said Smith. She was approached by Jamie Knobloch, a publisher from Thorndike Press which specializes in large-print books, who asked if the schools would be interested in a different approach to help struggling readers.
“They're involved in a couple of pilots ... looking at (large-print books’) benefits for delayed ... or struggling readers,” said Smith. “Really, the study does show that fluency increases, anxiety decreases, lexile levels are going up, their comprehension is better … And it's not just for special ed kids, it's for any kid, really.”
Knobloch gave Smith a list of titles and she shared the list with BRHS librarian Kerrin Erhard and other teachers. Knobloch gave the schools 50 large-print books.
Teacher Mark Gorey thanked Laser and the committee for a recent meeting on online harassment. The CSD's acknowledgment of the issue comes from a series of incidents of online bullying last year. “… One of our teachers who was the object of some of that harassment was able to go to this last meeting and hadn't been able to give his perspective before.”
Following this meeting, Laser sent invitations for an Oct. 21 meeting on the subject to District 13 Sen. Dana Dow and District 89 House Rep. Holly Stover. Gorey said he hopes the two can attend and perhaps help create a bill.
Laser said BRES’s heating system will be online when crews finish installing alarms to the new boilers. The new John Deere Gator will arrive the first week of November and come with the plow and salt and sand spreader, he said.
The committee announced that surveys on Laser will go to all teachers and staff of AOS 98 early next month.
The committee held a moment of silence in memory of past staff members Roger Lajoie and David Landry. Said Colcord, “Dave Landry was a teacher of mine, he was always friendly to kids and I have great memories of him.”