April 08, 2020

SAD 63 has plans to map out its future

HOLDEN – SAD 63 wants to shape a new vision for itself with help from the community, the superintendent said this week.

Over the next year, a 14-member planning group with representatives from Holden, Eddington and Clifton will hold meetings with residents and school staff to determine the district’s goals and priorities for the future, Superintendent Louise Regan said. Then the group will create a vision statement and develop an action plan.

Conversations with residents will focus around academics, personnel, finances and technology, among other things, she said. Discussions will include the idea of coordinating services with other schools in the region and of creating exclusive contracts for high school placement. Also to be examined is whether the district will continue to offer a comprehensive educational program with art, music, physical education and foreign language; whether there should be more support for technology; and whether adult classes should be developed.

“We’re putting everything out there,” Regan said. “We’ll look at our strengths and weaknesses and then sketch out a 10-year-plan.”

While the current strategic plan is in place for the next two years, the time is ripe now to begin thinking of what comes next because of issues around Essential Programs and Services – the state’s new education funding formula; Brewer High School’s new admissions policy; new housing developments that are going up in the district; and tax reform measures such as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights that voters will consider Nov. 7, the superintendent said.

“So many things were happening that we thought we should step into this now and take stock of everything and figure out what to do down the road,” she said.

The planning group will include municipal officials, community members, administrators, teachers and school board members. Aided by Jeffery Wahlstrom, a professional facilitator from Starboard Leadership Consulting LLC in Bangor, members will begin meeting next month and will schedule community discussions in January and February.

“The idea is to talk to the community about their concerns and their feelings about where the district should be heading in the next few years,” Don Varnum of Holden, chairman of the planning group, said Friday.

Once the community sessions have been completed, the planning group will create a survey for residents with questions around the overarching issues and themes that surfaced during the meetings.

Armed with the results, the group will come up with vision statements about what the district should look like in the future, and then will craft an action plan to take the district through the next 10 years.

The plan is to give a presentation to the SAD 63 board of directors and the community next summer.

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