Superintendent's Update for Friday, April 7, 2017

Post date: Apr 7, 2017 2:11:41 PM




Office of the Superintendent

Telephone (207) 348-9100 Fax (207) 348-9103

“It takes a whole community to educate a child.”

Superintendent’s Memo

To: Parents & Guardians

From: Christian M. Elkington

Re: CSD 13 Superintendent’s Budget Update

Date: Friday, April 7th 2017

The present budget is a draft to be adjusted by the school board. Final decisions have not been made! A detailed draft budget may be accessed at the Union 76 website or by contacting my office.

Questions and concerns about the development of the 17-18 School Budget have come up as we are beginning the review of a draft budget. This is to be expected during any budget process, but is especially understandable here on Deer Isle and Stonington for two reasons. First, the original process approved by our school board had to be scrapped when I became ill and was in and out for much of three weeks in March. Secondly, this change of plans led to less information being shared initially, which because of our district’s recent financial difficulties has led to concerns about transparency, misinformation and the lack of trust concern rearing its head again in our communities. Starting today a weekly update will be going out to parents, guardians and community members sharing information and answering questions as they come up. Please also go to the U76 Superintendent’s Office Web Site at: for weekly updates.

We continue to deal with the tension between doing what is best for our children and the demands from the community to reduce the costs associated with the school system facing a diminishing population. We are not unique as many Maine communities, especially on the Peninsula, are facing the same problems. I am hoping/working on developing an approach that will allow positive steps forward while facing the realities of this situation. I believe that becoming a K-12 School where we reimage how we engage our students and best use our resources is an essential first step in moving forward and reinvigorating our community’s support. Much of what is described below is driven by this outlook.

2017-2018 CSD 13 Budget Development Guidelines and Parameters set by the School Board:

- 0% Tax Impact for 17-18 as previous budget concerns need to be dealt with

- Need to tackle the fact that student numbers have reduced dramatically the last 15 years

- Adjust student-to-teacher ratios in grades 7-12 by reallocating staff resources to other students as

student-to-teacher ratios are currently unsustainably low at the DISHS.

- Continue to tackle long-term budget concerns and build a financially sustainable CSD 13 Budget.

Current per student costs at DISHS, in particular, are not sustainable.

- Develop a long-term plan to tackle facility needs

- Improve expertise of the CSD Staff through system change and increased professional development to

address student social and emotional learning needs.

The Budget Process & Timeline - The timeline for this year’s budget development and approval process has been seriously impacted by the Superintendent’s almost 3-week illness. The timeline for going forward is found at the end of this update!

Immediate District Concerns that impacted the development of the draft budget:

- The CSD may lose $165,000 in state aid as we do not qualify for the 17-18 Disadvantaged Student

Allocation due to low percentage of students reporting as qualifying for free or reduced lunch.

- Lack of a cohesive, understood vision and mission for CSD 13. An updated strategic plan needs to be

created. A committee will be named and begin working this June.

- Increasing student behavior/social-emotional needs require additional staff training and support.

- Staff wages and benefits have fallen behind other districts around us making it hard to recruit new

staff. The high cost of living on the island creates an additional stressor on recruitment.

- Our percentage of Special Education Students and resource costs continue to be quite high.

- Our school buildings need major work.

- We are looking at a possible 10% health care increase, which significantly adds to personnel costs.

- The last three reported years have seen our per-pupil figures rise significantly without a corresponding

improvement in student performance at the high school:

- $16,925.00 per student (12-13) placing us 10th highest in the state

- $22,325.00 per student (13-14) placing us 5th highest in the state

- $24,115.00 per student (14-15) placing us 3rd highest in the state

2014-2015 K-8 Per Pupil Costs In Our Area:

Brooklin $19,581

Brooksville $19,517

Castine $18,621

Deer Isle-Stonington $17,912

Penobscot $13,874

Surry $13,042

Sedgwick $12,975

Blue Hill $12,246

Proposed Staff Reductions:

- Assistant Principal becomes Assistant Principal/Athletic Director eliminating $15,000.00 in stipends.

- Director of Technology position reduced to .7 and will be partially shared within U76.

- Reduction of one Math position from DISES. Current DISHS teacher presently 75% HS and 25% ES

will become 100% at DISES.

- Reduction of one Social Studies position. Will utilize staff with dual certification to teach an

elementary school social studies course. One 7-12 social studies teacher will teach all remaining


- Reduction of one English position. Instead of offering two distinct English Language Arts (ELA)

courses at each grade cluster [9/10 and 11/12] each year, we will offer multiple sections of a single

9/10 ELA class and multiple sections of a single 11/12 ELA class in 2017-18 and then rotate in

2018-19. Two English positions will become 7-12 teaching assignments, with high school teachers

teaching all 7/8 ELA classes. Will utilize staff with dual certification to teach other English classes.

To achieve the proposed budget, the following program adjustments are proposed for implementation at the high school:

The 2017-18 Program of Studies was constructed with two goals in mind:

- Course offerings are adjusted to allow some high school teachers to teach middle school classes next year as outlined in the budget

- Scheduling students has become increasingly difficult as we are only able to offer one section of almost every course each year using the current schedule. In order to address this problem, we are attempting to schedule multiple sections of many courses on a rotating schedule to provide students more opportunities to fit in all the courses they need to support their post graduation plans. Individual consultations with parents and their students are welcome to ensure clarity and comfort that their son/daughter’s schedule is meeting individual needs. Please contact Mr. West to make arrangements for a meeting.

Other key changes at DISHS for the coming school year include:

- Course rotations including all English courses, 9th and 10th grade social studies courses, and upper level physical science courses, will be offered on an annual rotation starting in 17-18. For example, 9th graders have traditionally taken World Studies and 10th graders have traditionally taken Civics. We will now be offering Civics in 2017-18 for all 9th and 10th grade students and then world studies in 2018-19 for all 9th and 10th grade students. All students will have the opportunity to take the same courses they would have always taken [and need in order to graduate], but they may take them in a slightly different order. This concept will likely expand to other courses and content areas in future years. Our goal is to make sure each student gets the coursework needed to support their post-graduation needs.

- Advanced Placement Courses will continue to be offered as we have done in the past, based on student needs. We are planning for an AP English Class in 17-18 and will continue to rotate AP courses,

- Math Labs for 17-18. We have been offering two-credit A/B options for Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry. This allowed some students who needed to move at a slower pace the opportunity to cover the same content over two semesters instead of one, but created issues in making sure all students could get the courses they needed. We are going to eliminate the A/B options and instead provide math labs, which will support individual students who are having difficulties or require assistance for Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry as well as our Pre-Algebra and Basic Math courses. This solution allows us to still provide the support students need while also allowing more flexibility in the schedule and allow more high school teachers to teacher at the elementary school.

- Pathways changes. In order to schedule more high school teachers at the elementary school team-taught Pathways courses will not be able to be offered. We will still offer courses in both the Arts and Marine Studies Pathway and will identify places in our Program of Studies where specific lessons, units/options related to Pathways will be implemented. For example, there will be opportunities in English to integrate some Marine Studies content from Maritime Literature and Arts content from our Storytelling Class.

- Blue/White Alternating Day Schedule for 2017-18. One implication of the shifts in the Program of Studies, will be the need to move away from the 4x4 block schedule that the high school has used for several years. In its place, we will use a Blue/White, alternating day schedule. DISHS has used a Blue/White schedule at various times in its past.

This change provides practical solutions for the new course schedules and staffing. It is not necessarily an improvement of the current schedule, but it is also not a step down.

In order to make the best use of funds and staff, we propose to use the following guidelines in decision making:

- Consider ourselves a K-12 school with and Upper and Lower School or 7-12 & K-6 Academies.

- Have High School Staff oversee instruction and learning in grades 7-12.

- Develop and implement a Special Ed Behavior Program at DISES.

- Develop a planning Room for “during the day” DISHS student social-emotional interventions.


4/13/17 Special School Board Mtg.: Review of Adult Ed & Food Service Budgets and

discussion of proposed 17-18 Budget 5:30 pm PUBLIC COMMENT WELCOME

4/24/17 Chris & Board Chair review budget w/Stonington Select Board

4/25/17 Budget Workshop: Review adjustments 5:30 pm PUBLIC COMMENT WELCOME

4/27/17 Chris & Board Chair review budget w/DI Select Board

4/28/17 Special School Committee meeting to approve budget 3:30 PM

5/2/17 School Committee Mtg. (approve warrant articles for Budget Validation Referendum)

5/4/17 Public Budget Review Mtg. 5:30 PM PUBLIC COMMENT WELCOME

5/11/17 Public Budget Review Mtg. DISES 7:00 PM PUBLIC COMMENT WELCOME

5/12/17 Budget materials delivered to the Town Office: budget, warrant articles, narrative

5/16/17 Budget insert for the paper due

6/5/17 District Budget Meeting to vote on proposed budget

6/6/17 School Board Mtg. (sign warrant articles)

6/13/17 Referendum on Proposed Budget: within 10 days of Town Meeting

All public meetings are at DISHS (cafeteria or gym) unless otherwise noted.

Finally, in order to better determine the future direction and priorities for the CSD the following activities will take place in the coming year:

- The School Board and Superintendent will be developing a process for people to share their thoughts

and ideas honestly and safely through a dialogue involving all stakeholders (May – July 2017).

- A Strategic Planning Committee and process will be formed to begin this summer and/or early fall. It

is a must for membership to include members from all walks of life in our communities with the goal

of Jan/Feb 2018, a Strategic Plan introduced to our community.