MSAD 9 discusses accreditation, hot lunches, building projects

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FARMINGTON – MSAD 9 School board directors discussed the pros and cons of accreditation for Mt. Blue High School at their Tuesday evening meeting, resolving to further address the issue at a later date.

Accreditation can come from the state or a third party organization, such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Basically, accreditation consists of a peer review, with one or more years spent reviewing a variety of aspects of the school’s educational experience, from leadership to teaching methods to the quality of the facility. Several administrators and educators, including the former principal Joe Moore, have said it is an excellent opportunity to study ways to improve educational offerings. The value of the accreditation for graduating Seniors interested in secondary school is debatable however.

The MSAD 9 school board now has four brand-new directors. In addition, one former director, Director Joyce Morton, of Farmington, has agreed to fill retiring Director Francis Orcutt’s seat for his single remaining year.

Superintendent Michael Cormier said that Mt. Blue already had an excellent reputation with many colleges, and that accreditation may not be as helpful at those schools as it might at ones where no Mt. Blue students had attended.

Mt. Blue was actually accredited by NEASC up until 1993. Financial shortfalls made the $6,000 in dues and $20,000 re-accreditation procedure less attractive however, and the school board ended the practice. Currently, the only accredited school in Franklin County is MSAD 58’s Mt. Abram High School.

Cormier and others said that the high school reconstruction process, which will result in a sizable amount of work and stress for both teacher and administrators, would make going through the accreditation process very difficult. The board will review more information of the subject and discuss the issue at a later date.

In other business, the board unanimously vote to raise the cost of hot lunches by 30 cents. The cost increases, which actually range from 30 to 50 cents for different aspects of the school’s meal is due to high fuel and food costs. The district is also endeavoring to offer better, healthier and more diverse choices for students. At the middle and high schools the proposed increases are 80 cents to a $1.15 for breakfast and $1.70 increasing to $2 for lunch.

Breakfast prices will increase from 70 cents to $1 for K-6 students, while lunch prices at the elementary level will rise from $1.45 to $1.75.

Assistant Superintendent Susan Pratt reported that work on the Mallett School Building Project has been temporarily sidetracked, as the committee, architect and town of Farmington try to come to grips with the Maine Historical Society’s recent statement. That organization, which advises the Department of Environmental Protection for building projects, said that one of the the two houses which would be razed under the current plan is in a “historical preservation district,”

and should not be destroyed.

The committee has yet to see this statement in writing, and Pratt said the ramifications of the ruling are still being considered. A pending review by the Department of Education, expected shortly after a recent, successful straw vote on the site plan, has been postponed.

The board also approved the signing of warrants for a public hearing and vote to close the Weld Elementary School. The hearing is scheduled for July 29, while the vote will be held on August 12. If residents want to keep the school, which is expected to serve only 13 students if open this fall, in service, than they will be forced to carry the estimated $100,000 additional cost. That would be on top of the existing allotment.

Director Joyce Morton, of Farmington, rejoined the board that evening, after having chosen not to run for the seat. She was elected by the selectmen to fill Director Francis Orcutt’s one remaining year. Orcutt left the board last week.

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