Possible Cut List for the RSU 18 Budget = Impact!

Jon Moody:

I strongly encourage our students, parents and community members to participate in this new budget process (Starting tonight at MMS, 6:00 Cafeteria). Most of the proposed cuts will directly impact our students, staff, and offerings across the district.

Originally posted on Messalonskee Middle Principal's Blog:

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Tomorrow night (May 27) the school board will hold a budget workshop.  The purpose of this workshop is to begin the process of considering cost reductions to the proposed budget for the 2015-16 school year that failed last Tuesday.  Although the budget put forward maintained all programming for the district, it failed to pass.  Now the school board is tasked with the job of revisiting the budget to make decisions on what could possibly be cut with the least impact to students’ academic programs.  After years of cutting and tight budgets, it will be a daunting task.  I encourage all members of the community to take part in the process.  Tomorrow night the school board will be looking at a number of cuts.  These cuts could include the following:

School Administration-salary and position reductions

Teaching cuts at China Primary, Belgrade Central, James H. Bean, Messalonskee High and Middle Schools, as well as the…

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RSU18 Budget Vote is Today!

The RSU18 School Budget vote is today and we need your vote.

Budget Voting LocationsI’ve shared facts on our budget over the last month, encouraging people to look at the numbers when making a decision on our budget.  When you compare our district to other schools (and even non-school entities like town government) over the past five years, you will see that RSU18 has taken a responsible approach to spending (well under 1%/ year).  I encourage any and all community members to get out and vote to support the budget today.  As with all things Messalonskee, I’m happy to discuss questions so don’t hesitate to reach out should you have any!

Your Vote counts

As high school principal, I have spent a lot of time with the RSU18 budget.  I’ve been a part of tough discussions on spending, had monies I’ve requested cut and worked with staff to continue programming for our students.  It’s a hard process each year, but it is one that I am ultimately proud of and one that I believe reflects well on our district.  From bus drivers to teachers, to administrators and support staff, it is my belief that we do well by our local communities.

Information on the 2015-16 budget can be found at: http://www.rsu18.org/index.php?id=2&sub_id=7574

Information on past budgets can be found at: http://www.rsu18.org/index.php?id=341&sub_id=447

I am frequently asked about the district budget (as a long-time resident with three kids moving through the district, I’m often approached with questions).  Below are some points I would share about our budget and the budgeting process.

Our district spending over the past five to six years has been very responsible:

Over the last five years RSU18 Budget cumulative increase stands at 3.57%; this is a 0.71% annualized increase over that time.  An increase of less than 3/4 of one percent each year.

Neighboring districts 5 year cumulative budget increase stands at: Augusta – 8.15%, Lawrence – 12.72%, Maranacook – 10.85%, Waterville – 11.8%, Winslow 4.79%

RSU18 is frugal with their spending based on the per-student spending as reported by the state when compared both to state averages as well as the surrounding school communities.

The RSU18 per-student spending for 2013-14 is $10,245, $1811 below the state average of $12,059.

The per-student cost of the 2015-16 RSU18 School budget stands at $11,459 using the latest state enrollment figures (Oct. 1).

The same per-student spending of area schools is:  Augusta – $12,714, Lawrence – $12,194, Maranacook – $13,510, Waterville – $11,742, Winslow – $11,835.

Area District Budget Comparison

(2013-14 Maine School Expense Category Comparison)

 

RSU18 does well by kids…  As principal of Messalonskee High School I have seen us work to better the education of the students in our building over the past four years.  The teaching staff has been flexible, increased a larger variety of offerings for students, and worked to raise the academic performance of our students.   Last year we were the highest scoring High School in our area with a “B” on the state report card.

 

As always, I am happy to answer any questions you may have pertaining to the budget or other items related to our work at MHS.

Go Eagles!

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Day of Caring & Spring Fling

Two years ago students from the Messalonskee Student Council approached me with the idea of changing our traditional one day Spring Fling (mostly a “fun” day) into a 1/2 day Spring Fling and 1/2 Day of Caring.  Along with a push from our staff, this move began Messalonskee’s focus on service to our school and communities.  This year our student body participated in events such as working at the homeless shelter, local nursing homes, our school greenhouse planters, our school gardens, the animal shelter, cleaning up local trails, working at each of our elementary schools, and more!  It was a truly amazing morning.

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The new “M” on the hill by the athletic fields.  Amazing work by our greenhouse crew!

Raised beds in the shape of an M_1690

Messalonskee’s graduation requirements were modified just after the new year to include a mandatory 40 hours of community service for graduation.  This effort along with events like the Day of Caring, our implementation of YES (year-end-studies), and teachers’ efforts to incorporate service learning into their courses have helped to embed service into what we call EAGLE PRIDE.  I couldn’t have been more proud of what I saw from so many of our students yesterday.  Below are just a few of the pictures from the day!

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If you know of ways to support the community and get students involved in meaningful service, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at school.  Together we are graduating the next generation of citizens. I am confident they will go forward and continue to help our communities remain the wonderful places that they are!

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Messalonskee’s May Students of the Month!

MHS began honoring a student of the month starting in 2012 and has grown the program to include a monthly student honoree from each class.

On Friday, May 8th, we were pleased to announce SOM recipients for the month of May.

SOM_May_15

 

Lucy Guarnierri, Olivia Jewell, Lydia Dexter and Allyssa Turner were welcomed to the stage with raucous applause from the entire school as their families joined them on stage for this honor.   In addition to fast-break cafe certificates, T-shirts, and SOM awards certificates, recipients receive donations from local businesses as well as being awarded special parking privileges at school (yes, applies only to those who drive…).

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As is often the case, the assembly was a time for staff to address some current topics with the entire student body.  Topics reviewed at the assembly were student dress code and student safety / making good choices on the eve of the Prom.

We encourage anyone (business or individual) who is interested in supporting the school’s effort to honor students through the SOM process to contact the school directly to talk about how they could help.

 

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RSU18 Budget’s first Step: 5/7 Budget Hearing, 6:00 MHS PAC

Earlier this year I wrote about our school budget and thought it made sense to revisit that blog post prior to the district budget hearing this Thursday (5/7/15, 6:00 MHS PAC).  As both a resident taxpayer and employee of RSU18 I feel it is important to share as much information as possible for you to make an informed decision on our budget and I encourage you to reach out to me should you have any questions.

As High School Principal I am perhaps as close to the creation and development of the budget as any building administrator, member of the RSU18 educational staff, or most other employees or residents of RSU18.  It’s a hard process each year, but it is one that I am proud of and one that I believe reflects well on our district.  From Bus Drivers to teachers, to administrators and support staff, it is my belief that we do well by our local communities.

Information on the 2015-16 budget can be found at: http://www.rsu18.org/index.php?id=2&sub_id=7574

Information on past budgets can be found at: http://www.rsu18.org/index.php?id=341&sub_id=447

I am frequently asked about the district budget (as a long-time resident with three kids moving through the district, I’m often approached with questions).  Below are some points I would share about our budget and the budgeting process.

Our district spending over the past five to six years has been very responsible:

Over the last five years RSU18 Budget cumulative increase stands at 3.57%; this is a 0.71% annualized increase over that time.  An increase of less than 3/4 of one percent each year.

Neighboring districts 5 year cumulative budget increase stands at: Augusta – 8.15%, Lawrence – 12.72%, Maranacook – 10.85%, Waterville – 11.8%, Winslow 4.79%

RSU18 is frugal with their spending based on the per-student spending as reported by the state when compared both to state averages as well as the surrounding school communities.

The RSU18 per-student spending for 2013-14 is $10,245, $1811 below the state average of $12,059.

The per-student cost of the 2015-16 RSU18 School budget stands at $11,459 using the latest state enrollment figures (Oct. 1).

The same per-student spending of area schools is:  Augusta – $12,714, Lawrence – $12,194, Maranacook – $13,510, Waterville – $11,742, Winslow – $11,835.

Area District Budget Comparison

(2013-14 Maine School Expense Category Comparison)

 

RSU18 does well by kids…  As principal of Messalonskee High School I have seen us work to better the education of the students in our building over the past four years.  The teaching staff has been flexible, increased a larger variety of offerings for students, and worked to raise the academic performance of our students.   Last year we were the highest scoring High School in our area with a “B” on the state report card.

Some key dates to participate in the proposed 2015-16 School budget.

RSU18 District Budget Hearing

5/7 – District Budget Hearing (citizens discuss, make motions, and vote on the budget to be presented to communities) – Messalonskee High School PAC, 6:00 pm

RSU18 Budget Validation Referendum (vote)

5/19 – District Vote on RSU18 15-16 budget (All communities)

 

As always, I am happy to answer any questions you may have pertaining to the budget or other items related to our work at MHS.

I encourage you to come to the District Budget Hearing this week (5/7, 6:00 MHS PAC) and hope you will take the time to cast your vote on May 19th.

Go Eagles!

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Eagle Pride: Messalonskee’s Academics Shine

At a recent Budget informational meeting in Belgrade I spoke about our work at Messalonskee High School and some of the offerings we provided our students with.  After the meeting I was asked by two citizens to share the work we are doing so that people would understand the type of education we are providing for our students.  I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the great things we are doing at MHS!

First, here is the State’s view of Messalonskee High School:

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As you can see, MHS is one of 28 schools in the state for 2014 that earned a B or higher.  Our report card score placed us in the top 22 of the 122 High Schools scored across the state and the top scorer for schools in our area.

MHS Graduation Rates Significantly Outpacing State and National Averages

Messalonskee High School has done a strong job when compared to the state with a high graduation rate and a low dropout rate over the last five years.

MHS Graduation Rate:  90.06% (5 yr. avg), with a 2.35% dropout rate

State Graduation Rate:  84.48% (5 yr. avg), with a 3.18% dropout rate

The National Graduation Rate for the same period of time is 78.67% (4 year avg. through 2013 as the 2014 national cumulative data could not be found at the time of this writing).

Scoring and Reporting Proficiency: MHS is Keeping the GPA

One of the biggest areas of confusion is Messalonskee’s scoring system.  At MHS we have a GPA, we provide course grades, and we certify standards.  This is sometimes confusing as the elementary and middle schools score students only in a 1-4 proficiency scoring system. Our leadership team and staff intentionally, in coordination with feedback from our active Parent Advisory Group, decided to do a dual scoring system three years ago.  Our approach is to recognize the attainment of standards for graduation in one program, while providing credit for and scoring each learning experience (class) in a 0-100 traditional scale.  Students who graduate will receive a very traditional transcript as well as one that documents their progress through the standards.

Expanded Learning Opportunities for Students

Over the past year, we have worked to expand and create transparency with regard to our academic program of studies.  In addition to a variety of online learning, students have access to over 150 learning experiences at Messalonskee.  The teachers and staff at MHS have created a digital resource for all learning experiences (courses & seminars) that students in RSU18 can take advantage of.  Check out our digital program of studies at the MHS website.  In addition to the courses offered, students, parents, and/or colleges  can access each course’s learning experience template which includes a course description, the standards covered, and the prerequisite learning that should take place prior to a student entering a class.  This level of transparency allows us to keep a very traditional HS structure while providing opportunities to meet students where they are at in their learning and move them forward.

Meeting All Students Where They Are At: MHS’s Implementation of the RSU18 Vision

As part of our work to meet the district vision of “Meeting students where they are at and moving them forward“, we have expanded our learning experience offerings for students who are significantly ahead and behind of where we would expect them to be.  As part of this effort, we have created a continuum of interventions that includes alternative education support and off-site learning for those with that need.  Students are also given options of accessing learning experiences that go at a slower pace and are focused on building skills.  For those students who are moving ahead more quickly, we offer 9 AP (Advanced Placement) classes on-site, as well as digital AP Courses through Maine’s “AP-for-All” and VHS programs.   This year 128 students took 164 slots in AP courses at MHS!  Amazingly, Messalonskee has consistently averaged over 3.0 on the AP Exams as a school resulting in our being named an AP Excellence School in 2012.

Earning College Credit While in High School

Another area of focus for us has been to provide our students with expanded options to take college classes while at MHS.  This year we have doubled our dual-enrollment college options at Messalonskee.  A dual-enrollment course is a college course taught by MHS teachers at the High School that allows students to earn college credits.  Students currently can take College Algebra, College Composition, Human Anatomy & Physiology, and Plant Biology at MHS (for a total of 12 college credits!).  We are working to expand these offerings through collaboration with Thomas College and KVCC for the 2016-17 school year.

In collaboration with the Mid-Maine Technical Center MHS was selected as a Bridge Site, allowing a cohort of MHS students to take classes at MMTC and MHS over their Junior & Senior years while earning college credits toward their associates degree (yes, yet again while still enrolled at MHS!)   In addition to classes taught on-site, our students have earned nearly 600 college credits over the last four years taking classes at local colleges while attending MHS (resulting in a huge savings to our students and their families!).

Going Beyond the Classroom: Clubs & Activites

Messalonskee High School enjoys a tremendous suite of extra and co-curricular offerings.  MHS’s music program is one of the strongest in our state and is regularly recognized for excellence.  In the arts, students are afforded the opportunity to participate in multiple drama productions each year, a variety of select music groups including Men’s and Women’s chorus, Men’s and Women’s Select chorus, Jazz and Pep Bands, just to name a few.  In athletics, Messalonskee boasts 24 sports programs.  In addition to the success these programs have experienced over the past five years, the school is most proud of the large-scale participation that exists, with well over 350 students participating in at least one activity over the course of the year.  Finally, our students are able to enjoy a wide variety of clubs and activities that tailor to their interests and needs.  From our Bible Club, Gaming Club, Garden Club, Gay-Straight Alliance and Jam Club, to our more traditional Student Council, NHS and Key Clubs, our students are afforded the opportunity to take part in something that matches their interests.

Strengthening Communities Through Student Service

Finally, we have worked to encourage civic engagement on the part of our students through the implementation of a new graduation policy.  The policy requires MHS students to complete a minimum 40 hours of community service over their 4 years at Messalonskee.  High School staff have supported this effort by incorporating service into courses such as Civics & Government and seminars such Volunteerism & Leadership.  Our student council has continued a recent tradition of adapting our “Spring Fling” in May to be half Spring Fling and half a community “Day of Caring”; a day where the entire messalonskee student body participates in service activities for our community.  We believe that by setting an expectation of engagement for our students today will lead to higher levels of engagement and service in their future.  (note: MHS’s Day of caring is Friday, May 15th!)

More to Do…

I recently wrote a piece for the Messalonskee Messenger entitled “Looking Back as We Move Forward” that highlighted the work we have done over the last 12-18 months.  I wrote there that “At Messalonskee High School we apply the best practices in teaching and learning in the context of a high-performing high school.  We will not throw away what we do well; instead we will reimagine how we can provide an even more vibrant education for our students.”  As we move forward we recognize that there is much work to be done.  As we work to tackle issues around raising our writing scores, fighting youth homelessness, further increasing student performance in ELA and Math, we recognize that we must hold on to those things that we do well and those things that make Messalonskee special.

I encourage you to join us and take part in this effort, either by supporting our school’s budget or by participating in our parent advisory or boosters groups.

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Oacaxan Animals

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Originally posted on Janna DeWan:
Pair of Turtles, Freshman Pair of Turtles, back side I am obsessed with color and patterns.  In my own work, I become mesmerized by intricate patterns.  It becomes a meditation for me.  I easily get…

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