WATERVILLE — Sara Sylvester was re-elected unanimously Wednesday night as chairwoman of the Waterville Board of Education and Joan Phillips-Sandy was re-elected executive secretary, also unanimously.

Sylvester, who is administrator of Oak Grove Center, a nursing and rehabilitation center in Waterville, has been on the School Board 12 years, including one year as chairwoman. Phillips-Sandy, an attorney, is starting her 20th year on the board and has been executive secretary a year.

In other matters Wednesday, the board heard from Heidi Bernier, athletic director of both Waterville Senior High School and Waterville Junior High, about discussions to possibly develop co-op athletic teams that would include both Waterville and Winslow students, where declining numbers have made it difficult or impossible to create full teams in either community.

Specifically, Bernier is looking at possibly forming a co-op swim team next year that would take part in competitions. She said officials also would look at having a co-op ice hockey team the following year.

Phillips-Sandy asked Bernier whether the decline in the number of participants is a result of waning interest or a general decline in student population.

“I think it’s twofold,” Bernier replied.

She said she thinks enrollment, cost and the socioeconomic status of the community all play a part.

Board member Susan Reisert said she thinks developing a co-op team would be welcomed as a way to “bulk up those numbers.”

“I don’t think it’s going to be any problem at all,” she said.

Scott Jones, a parent working with a group raising money to renovate Trask Auditorium at Waterville Senior High School, said the auditorium has been painted and new lights and sound have been installed.

The next project, he said, is building an extension on the stage, and Mid-Maine Technical Center is involved in helping to determine what needs to be done. Jones’ group received a revised bid for new curtains and auditorium seating, and the seating quote was lower than expected while the curtains quote was higher than expected, he said.

Meanwhile, the ad hoc group of parents, including Jones, is doing the fundraising from scratch and does not yet have a website or way of processing credit cards or other payment options, he said.

The group plans to have a fundraising kickoff event in several weeks. Some donations have been received, including a $125,000 donation as well as some smaller ones, he said. That funding is being channeled through the school district’s central office, according to Jones.

Schools Finance Director Paula Pooler said some donations have trickled in.

“Twenty dollars is twenty dollars. Everything counts and it’s greatly appreciated,” Pooler said.

Jones said he is talking to some potential large donors and the group is working on the kickoff plans. He said he would be happy to visit potential donors to talk about the project.

“I think it’s terrific,” Sylvester said of the group’s efforts.

Waterville Senior High School Principal Brian Laramee and Junior High Principal Carole Gilley discussed school goals for 2015-16, which include plans for improved academic achievement. Junior High Assistant Principal Doug Frame also spoke of efforts to decrease the number of disciplinary actions needed from year to year. Each year, he said, the number of at-risk students increases.

The school has focused on trying to extend the day with those students by offering after-school programs and mentoring, and the school currently has 22 such programs, according to Frame. Nine programs are funded by a 21st Century grant, he said.

“It’s really made a huge difference in this community,” Frame said.

Board member Pamela Trinward said she had an interesting experience recently. She met two children on bicycles who had been suspended from school and she tried to convince them to go to the library.

Trinward asked Gilley and Frame what kind of action would qualify students for such a suspension, to which they replied, “Violence.”

Frame said both students are being tutored outside of school and a plan is in the works to transition them back into school.

“So young, so sad,” Trinward said.

“It’s very sad,” Frame replied.

Phillips-Sandy asked whether the school has an in-school suspension program. Officials said it does not. Gilley said school officials are working with Superintendent Eric Haley and Assistant Superintendent Peter Thiboutot to try to develop such a program.

“Our school is not the only school that has this issue,” Gilley said.

Haley said serious discussions are being held to determine what schools have for resources and what is needed for such programs.

Phillips-Sandy expressed concern that young students who are suspended go out into the community unsupervised.

“Just to turn them loose on the streets doesn’t seem to be an ideal solution,” she said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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