SAD 4 will continue to utilize adult education cooperative resources
GUILFORD — Residents throughout the region looking to improve their lives through various academic and career programs can do so through the Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative (PVAEC), while also having the opportunity to take college courses through Eastern Maine Community College and the University of Maine-Augusta in the same building as the cooperative’s main office at the Penquis Higher Education Center on Mayo Street in Dover-Foxcroft.
Those looking for something fun and interesting to do can take part in a number of the Cooperative’s enrichment courses, which like the academics are offered in Dover-Foxcroft as well as other locations across an approximate 1,000-square mile region in Milo, Dexter, Guilford, Monson and Greenville.
SAD 4 will continue to be a part of the PVAEC for the near future as the school board voted to extend its agreement with the Cooperative through the end of the 2022-23 academic year during a Jan. 14 meeting at PCHS. SAD 4 costs will be determined and the funds will be part of the next three school budgets. The current program budget is nearly $411,500, divided by population numbers between the four member districts including SAD 41 of Milo, the Dexter-based SAD 46 and RSU 68 in Dover-Foxcroft.
The directors met with PVAEC Director Thelma Regan, who is planning to retire as of July 1 after being with the Cooperative since the organization began a decade and a half ago. “I like to think of adult education as a place of hope,” she said. “A place you can retool yourself and try things out, if you do this then maybe you can start to think about doing this.”
Regan said the PVAEC has helped more than 600 students earn credentials for their high school diplomas. “When you think about our small community that’s substantial in people going on to do things they couldn’t do before,” she said.
The director said the spring catalogue has been posted online (https://pvaec.maineadulted.org) and will be mailed soon.
“This is artwork from one of our art students and it’s amazing what enrichment does,” Regan said, holding up the brochure. She said the enrichment course fees help fund the PVAEC, and staff also seek grants to help reduce the contributions from the four member school districts.
Regan said in the first eight years the PVAEC did not request funding increases from its members and since then there have only been several increases. “Still it’s far less than it was more than 15 years ago when you had a director just for Guilford and a secretary and teachers just for Guilford,” she said.
“Enrichment builds the community as well, I look out my window and I don’t see anyone and many people are like that,” Regan, who lives in Wellington, said about those living in the wooded areas. She said PVAEC programs can enable those who may live alone to come together and look out for each other, such as checking in if a fellow participant is not in attendance.
“Adult education is an important cog in economic development,” Regan said. She said the cooperative works with colleges, employers and Eastern Maine Development Corporation, which has office space in the Penquis Higher Education Center. Regan serves on the Piscataqius County Economoic Development Council Executive Committee, which is also housed on the Dover-Foxcroft campus.
Regan said the Cooperative works with area businesses on training programs. PVAEC has partnered with the Hibbard Skilled Nursing Center in Dover-Foxcroft and other centers to help address the CNA shortage in the region. The facility will cover the program costs for graduates if they sign on to work there for a year after graduation, so they receive guaranteed employment and certification at no net cost.
“That’s a way of helping around here and we’re keeping the doors of places like that open,” Regan said.
In other business, District Technology Director/PCES Assistant Principal Jessica Dunton provided an update on the district’s new app and revamped district website at sad4.org. In the fall the directors authorized Superintendent Kelly MacFadyen to use up to $15,000 from the minor capital improvement fund to contract with the Little Rock, Arkansas-based Apptegy on revamping and then maintaining the website.
“We are live with our app and our website,” Dunton said. “We are very happy with our app and there are still a few improvements to come for the site.”
She gave a demonstration of the app with quick links to school information. “I think it will be good because you can have it in your pocket and because families are communicating with their phones,” Dunton said.
During an October school board meeting, MacFadyen said the approximate $15,000 total would cover the site setup by Apptegy. Moving forward the annual cost would be $4,500 plus $3 per student. The superintendent said the current on-call system cost is $1,272. She said this service would be covered under the agreement with Apptegy and the district would no longer have the additional near $1,300 expense.