RSU 39 cuts staff positions due to decreased enrollment

12 years ago

By Barbara Scott
Staff Writer

At the March 7 meeting of the Eastern Aroostook RSU 39 Board of Education members approved a proposal for curriculum change for integrated science for grades 9-12 at Caribou High School.   

All students at CHS must take three years of science for a minimum of three credits; one year of science credit may be waived after completion of two years of vocational training.

According to the curriculum changes the integrated science courses I and II would be compulsory for all freshmen and sophomores, exposing all students to the four disciplines of the science curriculum (all prior to SAT examinations). Classes for juniors and seniors would allow for greater focus on specific sciences and would allow for the possibility of additional electives at these grade levels. All students will have the opportunity to identify areas of scientific interest and strength and be able to explore them more seriously in grades 11 and 12.

Should a student fail a section (semester) of the 9/10 curriculum, they can immediately repeat it. All students will have a basic knowledge of chemistry prior to taking biology and having a semester format is inline with the Drop-Out Prevention Committee’s recommendations for course recovery.

According to Frank McElwain, RSU 39 superintendent, the integrated science curriculum would be as follows:

Freshmen — Integrated Science I: physics and chemistry (one semester each).

Sophomores — Integrated Science II: biology and earth science (one semester each).

Juniors and Seniors — Choices of chemistry, biology, physics, AP physics, advanced chemistry, anatomy and physiology, conceptual physics, AP biology and environmental science.

McElwain stated that the Integrated Science Curriculum will require a two-year transition period with the freshman class next year beginning the new program while sophomores (this year’s freshmen) next year will continue with the existing program, taking a full year of biology.

RSU 39 board members considered and approved the following reductions in staffing beginning next year in the Caribou schools, due to reduced student enrollments:

• Social studies teaching position at Caribou High School; one science position at Caribou High School; one first-grade position at Hilltop Elementary School;  one grade 8 position at the Caribou Middle School; and the elimination of the grade 4-6 French teaching position at the Teague Park/Caribou Middle School due to financial constraints.

By unanimous consensus the Board supported a proposal to change the practice of parents requesting specific teachers for their children. At a prior RSU 39 meeting, Jane McCall and Tanya Belanger, principals at the Hilltop and Teague Park elementary schools addressed the panel asking for their consideration in changing the policy whereas parents could request a certain teacher as this was causing a problem with classroom numbers and mix. The two principals agreed that in many cases the requests were because a student wanted to be in a classroom with all of his/her friends and for no other reason. The principals also stated that in the case where a parent discussed concerns with having their child taught by a certain teacher for other reasons, they would be glad to take these issues into consideration.

A motion by Clifford Rhome to reorganize school programs and move the Superintendent’s Office to the Caribou Learning Center was seconded by John Sjostedt and passed unanimously. McElwain stated that the relocation of the administrative offices would involve the moving of some current programs from the Learning Center where appropriate, allowing for students to become more integrated in the RSU educational format.

“It’s definitely a cost savings move,” stated McElwain, “there will need to be some renovations completed at the Learning Center but the relocations of some of the programs will be in place for the next school year. Programs that will continue at the Caribou Learning Center include Adult Education and the Alternative Education program.

McElwain informed the board members of recent RSU 39 staff hired including Kirk Cote, LCS track coach; C.P. Harris, CHS varsity girls softball (volunteer coach); Dan Umphrey, volunteer coach, CHS varsity boys baseball; Tom Hale, CHS varsity boys baseball, volunteer coach; and Dustin Damboise, CHS volunteer coach JV boys baseball.

Superintendent McElwain stated in regard to the 2012-13 RSU 39 education budget, “Work is still in progress by our committee and we are still looking to close the gap.” The district budget will be proposed to the RSU 39 communities of Caribou, Limestone and Stockholm by the end of May for approval, prior to being voted upon in June.