2014-08-29 / Front Page

New year, new challenges

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

Next week: Middle School of the Kennebunks, Consolidated School, Mildred L. Day School and Kennebunk Elementary School.

Change is afoot in Regional School Unit 21 as the start of school approaches rapidly.

A major goal across the district, said Superintendent Kevin Crowley, is to “Guide the work of our district to meet the state requirements for awarding proficiency-based diplomas to the class of 2019.”

As the district strives to meet this goal, “The central administration will meet with the middle and high school administrative teams to ascertain progress to date and plan for piloting the program during the 2014-15 school year.”

Crowley and Assistant Superintendent Katie Hawes plan to “create an action plan to ensure completion of the pilot (program) by July 1, 2015 and prepare for full implementation during the 2015-16 school year,” Crowley said. “Additionally, we will meet with the Instructional Administrative Team to ascertain the position of this work in RSU 21 relative to the six options for extension provided by the Maine Commissioner of Education.”

Coupled with the implementation of the proficiency-based diplomas, Crowley and Hawes will oversee the implementation of an “educator evaluation protocol” that meets state standards.

“We also plan to provide a program review to the board of directors on our final protocols and systems for both the Teacher and Principal Effectiveness pilots,” Crowley said.

A significant focus for Crowley and Hawes will be the Mildred L. Day School, Kennebunk High School and Kennebunkport Consolidated School building renovation projects.

“We will coordinate a multi-faceted information campaign to provide the voters with factual information about each project so they can make the bestinformed decision,” Crowley said. Several schools in the district reported increased student enrollment for the 2015-2016 school year.

At Kennebunk High School, Principal Sue Cressey reported that enrollment has gone from 672 in June to 690 and climbing.

The high school will have four foreign tuition students from China and three exchange students from Sweden, the Czech Republic and Spain.

The district adopted a one-to-one technology initiative late last year, meaning each high school student will receive a Google Chromebook on loan from the district.

“Chromebooks will be issued the third week of school, after students have signed for them and paid a $20 deposit,” Cressey said.

Also being launched this year at the high school is an alternative education program for girls. “They will collaborate with the boys’ program at times, and, at other times, the girls will work on their own projects,” Cressey said.

In the curriculum vein, a new calculusbased physics class is being added this year as part of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program.

In addition, “The faculty will continue to align the curriculum with Common Core and subject-specific standards,” Cressey said. Teachers have “worked hard to develop common assessments which will ensure alignment among courses in the same subject areas and give students the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century.”

At Sea Road, students will enter an upgraded facility on their first day of school. Throughout the summer, said Principal Steve Marquis, “We’ve had improvements with our roof and flooring, as well as just general upkeep. Our facilities department has done a tremendous job of ensuring our school is in tip-top shape for the arrival of students.”

Sea Road is also experiencing an influx of students, Marquis said. Enrollment is at nearly 270, a net increase of about 15 students. “That’s right up with the largest groups that have come to Sea Road,” Marquis said. Some new students are from Maine, but a number of students are joining the school from out of state.

“As far as what we’re going to work on in the coming year, at the heart of what we’re going to do will remain the same,” Marquis said. “It’s important to help kids developmentally in all areas across the curriculum. We will do a lot of work continuing on in the culture of literacy.”

“We’re also going to have a strong refocus on developing writing skills as well: improving literacy in reading as well as writing,” Marquis said.

“I firmly believe one of many reasons that the district works is a strong adherence to what works in the classroom.

“At the end of the day what makes our school and district special is really trying to support the whole child (by) participating in things that gets kids excited about coming to school every day in addition to curriculum.”

The first day of school for students in grades one through nine is Tuesday, Sept. 2. The first day of school for sophomores, juniors and seniors is Wednesday, Sept. 3.

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