SULLIVAN, Maine — The Maine Department of Education announced final approval Thursday of $1.7 million in school improvement funds for Sumner Memorial High School.
The funds are part of the $13.3 million in federal School Improvement Grants awarded to the state through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Department of Education also announced final approval for Riverton Elementary School in Portland, which will receive $3.3 million; and for Governor James B. Longley School in Lewiston, which will receive $1.9 million.
The schools are among the 10 identified in the state this spring as being persistently low-achieving. They will use the funds for programs to improve student achievement.
“We’re ready to go,” said Katrina Kane, assistant superintendent for RSU 24, of which Sumner is a part. “Everybody wants to move forward. The staff has been through a very challenging time and have done a lot of hard work to get plans in place so that we can move forward and have a really positive year for our students.”
Sumner will receive $1,731,520 in school improvement funds over the next three years. Among projects the grant will fund are a teacher coaching program, including hiring three full-time teacher coaches in order to improve classroom effectiveness and engagement with students.
The grant also will fund expanded technology, increased remedial programs, improved after-school opportunities and development of personal learning plans for each student, a process that will include participation by the student and their family.
Receiving final approval before the start of the school year will enable the high school to act on the planning that it has done. Since receiving initial funding approval for the school improvement plan, district officials have been working this summer on interviewing and hiring new personnel for new programs. With final approval and the funding amount set, Kane said, the high school will be able to begin working on those plans right from the start of the school year.
This has been a difficult year for students and staff, she said, noting that often in this kind of process much of the focus can be on the negatives. All of the good things can get lost, she said.
Among the good things, Kane said, is the staff.
“We have a staff that cares very deeply about the success of the students and that possesses excellent content area expertise,” she said. “What we’re going to be working on is enhancing the way we deliver that content so that it best meets the needs of our learners.”
State education officials are working with one other school, Deer Isle-Stonington High School, as it works to complete its application for school improvement funds. Officials indicated that the U.S. Department of Education is expected to grant permission to release funds to three other schools, Lake Region High School, Naples; Carrabec High School, North Anson; and Livermore Falls High School.
Three schools that were eligible for the school improvement grants chose not to apply.