READFIELD — After months of analysis, a committee exploring ways for Regional School Unit 38 to reorganize has come back to one of its original proposals: reconfiguring the district’s four elementary schools.

When the board subcommittee presents its findings and recommendations Wednesday, two primary scenarios will be up for discussion:

* An administrative recommendation would send all district students in third through fifth grades to Readfield Elementary Schoool, and the youngest Readfield students to the nearest of the other three elementary schools, in Manchester, Mount Vernon or Wayne.

* The other restructuring scenario the committee will present would fill each of the elementary schools to capacity, without regard to town borders.

The board discussed the former suggestion last year, and the district hired a facilitator to work with a committee of board members and employees.

“The board seemed very amenable to that, but there was a big pushback from the community,” Superintendent Rich Abramson said. “(The board) said, ‘Maybe we’ve moved too quickly.'”

Starting in March, the board evaluated 14 scenarios to see how they would meet the challenge of delivering “a consistently high-quality education, with all students meeting the standards, in a time of shrinking resources and declining enrollments,” according to a final report.

Enrollment at the elementary schools ranges from 65 in Wayne to 175 in Readfield, and class sizes vary widely from school to school. School leaders hope to achieve better equity in class sizes and more consistency in instruction.

“If we can make class sizes more equitable across the schools, that would be better for students, and we wouldn’t need as many teachers,” said Lynette Johnson, school board chairwoman and a member of the restructuring committee.

Beyond reshuffling students, the committee also began exploring some initiatives to enhance the “quality and creativity” of education in the district, no matter how students are assigned to schools.

It will recommend the following reforms for further board consideration:

* a regional alternative school with individualized instructuion for students in grades six through 12 “who are not successful in mainstream classrooms.”

* a K-8 pilot program or charter school.

* a standards-based model in which students are assigned and can advance based on mastery of the material rather than age.

The restructuring probably would take effect next year, and new educational initiatives would follow in 2013-14, Abramson said.

Wednesday’s meeting, at 6:30 p.m. at Maranacook Community High School, is intended for board discussion rather than as a public hearing.

Once board members decide which options they want to pursue, there will be opportunities for public input, Johnson said.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]


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