SAD 41 officials preparing for new school year

By Stuart Hedstrom 
Staff Writer

    MILO — With students returning for a new school year in approximately a month and a half, officials in SAD 41 are busy readying for the pupils’ return with teaching positions being filled, new programs getting up and running and classrooms being prepared. During a school board meeting on July 10, the directors made several votes and heard various reports all related to the start of the 2013-14 academic year.

    The first hire made on July 10 was Allison Woodard as literacy coach at the Milo Elementary School. “Allison would take over for Julie Royal and we tweaked it to make this a literacy coaching position,” Superintendent Michael Wright said, as Royal is now the Milo Elementary principal and Woodard also assumes a new role at the school.
    “I’m very, very excited to have literacy coaches in the district,” Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment/Assistant Superintendent Stacy Shorey said. “I think we are going to have improved student reading and writing scores as a result.” She added that teachers’ professional development is very important for the SAD 41 as the investment can provide great benefits for students’ education.
    The school board also approved the nomination of Sasha Bladen as high school and middle school art teacher at Penquis Valley. Wright said Bladen taught art last year at the Enfield Station School in AOS 43 partner district SAD 31
    “I think she will be a great addition to the high school here, and it will be a good step up for her to the next level,” he said.
    Wright also provided an update on the two new programs that will start at the Marion C. Cook School in LaGrange. He said he spoke with Kara Taheny of the Carleton Project “and she thinks there are 13 students on board” for the alternate high school program so far.
    Five students are lined up for the behavioral program that also will be located on the LaGrange campus. Two of these pupils will come from SAD 41, and the other three will be from SAD 31 on a tuition basis. Wright said the numbers for both programs are in the expected range for the first year.
    “I think we did the right thing with the Carleton Project and the behavioral program, as sad as it was (to close the elementary school),” Board Chair Don Crossman said. As part of a the district-wide realignment plan, the Marion C. Cook School will no longer house K-6 students. LaGrange pupils in grades K-5 will attend Milo Elementary, and all SAD 41 sixth-graders will be taught at the middle school at Penquis Valley.
    The three SAD 41 principals provided updates on summer happenings, with Brownville Elementary Principal Lynn Weston saying, “It’s been busy, just in a different way.” Weston said summer school is in session Monday through Thursday with special education summer school taking place Tuesdays through Thursdays. She and Royal have been meeting “to start to talk about scheduling and budgets and getting orders sent in.”
    In the spring the Marion C. Cook School Playground Committee gave a $5,500 donation to the SAD 41 music program, and Weston said, “We have bought two instruments with the grant from the Cook School.” She said elementary music teacher Jack Eastman is constantly searching for deals on instruments, such as at yard sales, to help stretch band funds.
    “Our outdoor classroom will be started on the 22nd,” Weston said. She said a crew from the town of Brownville will be doing some digging on the site to get the parcel of the school campus ready for the classroom construction.
    “There is a lot of moving in Milo, most of the LaGrange teachers have been in and out,” Royal said, as many teachers who were at the Marion C. Cook School will be in classrooms elsewhere in the district.
    Royal said realignment has enabled a former classroom at Milo Elementary to be divided into three different spaces to fill some needs that were not able to be met with sixth-graders in the building. She said a portion of the classroom will be a conference room and the other two sections could be used for other purposes, such as student group work space.
    “Summer school got started yesterday and it seems to be going well,” Penquis Valley Principal Matthew Hackett said. He mentioned a camera and buzzer were installed earlier in the day at the school’s main doors, and the security mechanisms should be operational when classes resume.

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