Four Lincoln County-based school districts, in addition to RSU 1 and the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center in Sagadahoc County, have been awarded a Maine Department of Education grant to spearhead a regional day program for students in grades six through 12.
The grant application stemmed from the districts’ desire to better serve students with special needs and save on the costs of out-of-district placements, said Wiscasset School Department Superintendent Heather Wilmot.
The superintendents and special education directors from each of the districts – AOS 93, AOS 98, RSU 1, RSU 12, and the Wiscasset School Department – will soon meet to hammer out the details of the program and finalize the contract with the Maine Department of Education for the approximately $518,000 grant, Wilmot said.
While the location of the program and the intervention model it will follow are still to be determined, the goal is to launch the program in the 2017-2018 school year, Wilmot said. The program will be catered to the needs of the students it serves.
“From my perspective, the ultimate goal of the program is to better serve students and keep them closer to their own community,” Wilmot said.
The estimated five-year savings from the program could be $8,086,664, according to a Maine Department of Education press release.
In January, the Maine Department of Education announced $3 million in EMBRACE grants to support regional education and efficiency initiatives. The superintendents of the local districts met a short time later to discuss a potential partnership, Wilmot said.
AOS 93 consists of Bremen, Bristol, Damariscotta, Jefferson, Newcastle, Nobleboro, and South Bristol. AOS 98 consists of Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Edgecomb, Georgetown, and Southport. RSU 1 consists of Arrowsic, Bath, Phippsburg, and Woolwich. RSU 12 consists of Alna, Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville, Westport Island, Whitefield, and Windsor.
The grant application for the Sheepscot Regional Education Program, which Wiscasset took the lead in submitting, was a collaborative effort among the school departments, Wilmot said. It outlined a regional research-based intervention program for students in grades six through 12, through the age of 20, in need of behavioral support.
The partnership would provide savings on infrastructure, staff, and administrative and financial oversight, according to the press release. The Maine Department of Education received 21 applications for EMBRACE grants, but only seven applications were selected.
The Sheepscot Regional Education Program received some of the highest marks out of the applications received and praise from Maine’s acting commissioner of education.
“We were particularly impressed with the Sheepscot Regional Education Program because this initiative directly benefits a population of students who are in great need of support,” said Robert Hasson, acting commissioner of education.
The program “will be an important opportunity for students in the Midcoast region to get a second chance at a successful educational experience closer to home,” Hasson said.
The partnership among the school districts would be structured in much the same manner as the regional collaborative agreement the four local districts have with RSU 1 for vocational programming, Wilmot said.
The next steps involve follow-up meetings with the Department of Education and superintendents and special education directors from the participating school districts, Wilmot said.
The grant and the award amount will not be finalized until a contract is negotiated between the Department of Education and the grant recipients, according to the press release.