The Maine Department of Education recently announced a round of grants for collaborative efforts between schools across the state, but a number of local schools were left off the list.
The department announced on Tuesday it was funding seven collaborative initiatives in a program called Enabling Maine students to Benefit from Regional And Coordinated approaches to Education, or simply EMBRACE. The grant was in response to an executive order issued by Gov. Paul LePage.
In order to apply, school districts and neighboring educational units proposed plans to cut costs by working together on initiatives creating opportunities for students while reducing costs. Twenty-one proposals came in, involving nearly 50 sites throughout the state, and seven applications were funded under the $2.7 million grant.
But a number of proposals with local implications were left on the cutting room floor. For instance, a proposal lead by the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences at the Good Will-Hinckley campus in Fairfield was not accepted. This proposal, “Self-Supporting Residential Programs for School Choice,” partnered with Good Will-Hinckley and Colby College in Waterville, as well as other schools. The Maine Academy of Natural Sciences was also a partner in a proposal from the Cornville Regional Charter School that was not accepted.
Good Will-Hinckley President and Director of Development Ken Coville said the “Self-Supporting Residential Programs for School Choice” grant application was a partnership between their Maine Academy of Natural Sciences and the Snow Pond Arts Academy, a charter school in Sidney, and the Snow Pond Center for the Arts. Other partners included Colby, the University of Maine at Augusta and others. Coville said the grant request was for $178,000.
He said the goal of the grant was two-fold. The first, he said, was to increase the efficiency of how residential services are delivered at the schools and nonprofits. This would increase efficiency by reducing overhead costs. The second component was to create a “self supporting residential component” by including a residential program for out-of-state or international students. The students could attend either charter schools or local public schools, but would be part of the residential program.
“That increased revenue would allow us to lower the costs for the state of Maine students,” Coville said.
Coville said his organization has asked the department for their application scorecard so that improvements may be made in their application. He said his group will reapply in the next round of funding.
While the University of Maine Farmington and Regional School Unit 9 were part of a proposal from RSU 4 that was accepted under the name Western Maine Mathematics 9-12/CTE Leadership Network, RSU 9 was part of another proposal that was not accepted. That proposal, which was spearheaded by RSU 10, was titled Western Maine Regional Education Program.
The accepted application by RSU 4, based in Litchfield, is designed to develop a high school math coaching model to better meet the needs of 9-12 mathematics teachers and career and technical education teachers in western Maine. It will cost $231,082 and is expected to save $403,798 over five years.
A proposal lead by RSU 54 and School Administrative District 54, titled Early College: Access and Aspirations in Somerset County, was also turned down. The Somerset Career and Technical Center and Thomas College were partners in this proposal. According to a spokesperson for Thomas College, the program would have delivered online courses for college credit at these schools. There would have been no charge to the students.
While just one third of the proposals were funded, the education department has said if additional funding becomes available, they will fund more proposals. Additionally, LePage has requested $5 million annually in the biennial budget proposal, which would enable additional rounds of applications for grants in future years.
Colin Ellis — 861-9253