Federal grant gives boost to regional school project in Knox County

Posted Jan. 07, 2013, at 3:07 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $348,100 grant to the Many Flags, One Community project to help design a plan to provide social, health and family services within the participating schools.

Many Flags teamed up with Penquis, which is a community action agency whose service area includes Knox County, to apply for the Promise Neighborhoods 12-month planning grant. The grant was one of 10 selected nationwide out of more than 200 applications, said Alan Hinsey, executive director of the Many Flags Foundation.

Many Flags and Penquis staff will oversee a regional needs assessment and development of an implementation plan that will lead to social, health and family services that can be coordinated with the newly developed Many Flags regional education structure, Hinsey said.

“The intent is to significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children, students and the workforce throughout the entire region,” he stated in a news release announcing the grant.

Hinsey said Monday that a meeting will be scheduled to meet with various organizations to determine the needs of the students. He said there are many anecdotal beliefs on what the needs are, but this study will pinpoint the most pressing ones whether they include nutrition, health or teen pregnancy.

The goal is then to develop a plan on how to address those needs.

At the completion of the 12-month planning grant period, Many Flags/One Community and Penquis can apply for a U.S. Department of Education implementation grant of up to $6 million per year to run for three to five years. In 2013, seven Promise Neighborhoods programs were selected for implementation grants totaling $30 million dollars, the news release stated.

Many Flags/One Community is a unique concept that promotes educational excellence and administrative efficiency by integrating, both physically and virtually, a regional network of high schools (Oceanside; Camden Hills Regional, Vinalhaven, North Haven and Islesboro); a state-of-the-art career and technical center (Region 8 Mid-Coast School of Technology); a higher education center (with courses and degrees offered by the Maine Community College and University of Maine Systems); and industry training centers.

“Our community has worked hard for several years to design and launch our new regional model. The planning grant funds and the recognition by the U.S. [Department of Education] will provide some of the momentum we need to keep moving this model forward. Our hope is that this grant will demonstrate that our innovative regional approach is a legitimate model for Maine that should be fully implemented now,” Hinsey stated in the news release.

Charlie Newton, chief executive officer of Penquis stated in the news release, “The idea is now to effectively and efficiently add in the family, health and social support services needed so that every student in the Many Flags system can reach their true potential. As the local Head Start provider, Penquis is experienced in providing the broad array of supports families need to enhance their children’s educational accomplishments. We look forward to working with Many Flags to expand that support to all educational levels.”

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