Administrators in the Deer Isle-Stonington school district were relieved Tuesday to learn that if the high school applies for its share of the $12 million federal Race to the Top grants for 10 “persistently low-achieving” schools in Maine, Principal Todd West can keep his job.
He’s held the position for 2½ years, and according to the usual requirements for grant eligibility that are applicable in Maine, principals who have worked more than two years at a struggling school must be replaced.
But the U.S. Department of Education decided to use student assessment data from the 2007 to 2009 school years and not count the 2009-10 school year, which means West can stay and continue the improvement work that school officials say he has begun.
“I think it’s turning into a pretty positive outcome overall,” said Superintendent Bob Webster. “I think some flexibility had developed because we had already initiated some steps that were part of the school improvement grant. The clock started ticking when we began those activities.”
The Deer Isle-Stonington school board had planned to meet April 6 to decide if members wanted to apply for the grant money — and find a new principal — but thanks to the federal change of heart, the meeting will have a different atmosphere, Webster said.
“It will be a much happier occasion,” he said.
West said that although he appreciates the reprieve, he still regrets that his school has a label that doesn’t feel deserved — or fair.
“My perspective on this has always been that it’s less about my job,” he said. “I think it still doesn’t change people’s perceptions, necessarily, of our school.”