Lincoln Academy’s recent response to a request for financial information from the Central Lincoln County School System shows an $843,353 reduction in its budget from last year to this year and reveals that the school will not continue its much-debated Eagle Term.
Lincoln Academy’s total 2018-2019 budget is $9,543,345, a decrease of $843,353 or 8.12 percent from 2017-2018 and more in line with expenses from two years ago, at $9,628,433.
The school system board reviewed the report April 9. The public school district sends most of its high school students to the independent school in Newcastle, as it does not have a public high school.
Along with financial information, the response included information on various school programs, including the elimination of Eagle Term — at least for now.
Introduced in 2017, the three-week May term allowed students to pursue electives with course titles like Just Off Broadway and The Physics of Martial Arts, as well as more standard material like History and SAT Math Prep.
According to a June 13, 2017 post on LA’s website, Eagle Term “seeks to cover material beyond the typical boundaries of secondary education, offering both STEM and humanities courses in addition to less-explored areas integrating outdoor activities and hands-on learning.”
“This program had proponents and opponents within both the LA and broader communities, and we didn’t feel we had the time or resources to either engage the community fully on the program’s merits or to try to restructure it under an interim (head of school). Instead, we decided to revisit the program within the broader curriculum initiative,” the LA report states.
A community survey about Lincoln Academy, conducted by the public school board in November and December 2017, as well as public comments and letters to the editor, have showed some dissatisfaction with Eagle Term.
The report included a breakdown of Lincoln Academy’s student body and what percentage of LA’s total income comes from the seven towns in the public school system — Bremen, Bristol, Damariscotta, Jefferson, Newcastle, Nobleboro, and South Bristol.
According to the report, 75 percent of the total student body and 87 percent of day students live in the seven towns. The towns pay about $4.8 million to the school, so those students account for just half of the school’s total income.
The report announced the creation of a new position of director of curriculum and instruction, which “will replace a current administrative role” and “will focus on teacher evaluation, academic program, professional development, and pedagogy.” The report did not specify what existing position the school will replace. More information was not available at press time.
Lincoln Academy stressed in the documents its commitment to a stronger relationship with the public school system, which is also known by the acronym AOS 93 — Alternative Organizational Structure 93, which refers to the state’s designation of the school governance model.
“While we appreciate that communication between LA and the AOS board had some challenges in the past, we feel our current leadership team and yours have both put considerable effort at every level since last summer to chart a different course forward,” Lincoln Academy Board of Trustees Chair Judi Hilton said in an introductory letter.
Sara Mitchell, South Bristol’s representative to the AOS 93 Board, has “taken on the role of AOS representative with the Lincoln Academy Board of Trustees,” according to the report, and “her active participation in our meetings is encouraged and her contributions appreciated.”
For the last couple of months, Mitchell, AOS 93 Superintendent Craig Jurgensen, Hilton, and LA interim Head of School Nancy Starmer have “had a standing bimonthly meeting to share information and collaborate on current needs, ideas, and programs,” according to the LA report.
The school’s report noted a need for more public funds in two areas.
The report acknowledged “consistent appeals from AOS 93 teachers and families to offer space” in its alternative education program to freshmen and sophomores, instead of only upperclassmen.
The program “serves students who do not thrive in a traditional academic environment,” are not special education students, and who are “often in jeopardy of dropping out of school before graduation,” according to the report.
While LA would “very much like to expand the program,” the report states, “additional funding (from AOS 93) will be necessary if we are to sustain” a program for grades nine through 12 “over the long term.”
The report lists an array of maintenance projects the school needs to complete and says it needs “to raise more than $500,000 of additional funds” for improvements to buildings, including Hillcrest House, home to the alternative education program; and the Parker B. Poe Theater.
Any increase in the “insured value factor” from the AOS 93 towns “could go directly to funding these projects,” the report states.
In addition to tuition for their students to attend Lincoln Academy, AOS 93 towns pay another 6 percent of the tuition as the “insured value factor” for maintenance of facilities. The towns can opt to pay up to 10 percent.