June 21, 2018
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Schools await hearing on grant

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

DEER ISLE, Maine — The Deer Isle-Stonington School Department is awaiting a date for an appeal hearing on the state’s rejection of its application for $1.6 million in federal school improvement grant funds.

The district filed an appeal last month after the state Department of Education rejected its application earlier in the year, according to Superintendent Robert Webster. District officials had worked with the department throughout the summer adjusting its application and opted not to withdraw the application when additional problems arose.

The school district had applied for the grant funds after being included on a list of the state’s 10 consistently low-performing high schools. It had been notified by the state that it would receive the grant funds, part of a $13.3 million federal allotment to the state, according to Webster.

The federal program required the application to set out specific plans for improvements, some of which already were under way.

But the district ran up against federal requirements that made it ineligible for the state funds. The program required the district to become a Title I school, which also carried the requirement that all teachers be “highly qualified teachers.” Highly qualified teachers must be fully certified in each of the subjects they teach, according to state requirements.

The district has three teachers who did not meet the highly qualified teachers requirements. According to Webster, the district had developed a plan for those teachers to meet the requirements during the current school year, but the state did not accept that plan and rejected the district’s application.

“Our appeal is that the department should have approved our grant based on our plan for those non-HQT teachers,” Webster said Wednesday.

He said he expects a hearing on the appeal to be scheduled sometime this month.

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