In January 1955, the Edgemont Board of Education approved a 6th grade camp. This camp began as Bear’s one-week trip to Lake Sebago on his Mountain. Nearly 70 years later, the school district has decided to discontinue night excursions for elementary school students.
As parents began to receive word of the decision, Edgemont School’s new superintendent, Dr. Kenneth Hamilton, joined elementary school principals Eve Feuerstein (Sealey Place) and Marisa Ferrara (Greenville) in January. I sent a letter on the 20th explaining the decision. In addition to the “frustration and disappointment” felt by members of the community, the understanding that “we missed an opportunity to effectively communicate how and why this decision was made” was a “covid shutdown and leadership crisis.” made worse by changes in the
In the summer of 2019, months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit their hometown in March 2020, district leaders discussed the “concerns” that parents and staff raised about travel. rice field. Despite the “tradition” and positive aspects of bringing her two elementary school students together, there were concerns when it came to “physical and emotional risks to student safety, security and well-being.” The letter called it a “catalyst” for a debate that “does not reflect Edgemont’s students, families, or faculty,” but instead “an unfortunate consequence of the world we live in today.”
Among the “many concerns” that are “challenging and ongoing issues” are the need for direct supervision, unattended sleeping arrangements and accommodation in unfamiliar locations, medical/diet needs, etc. support needs, costs, inclusiveness issues, and anxiety “rise rates”. Cohabitation and being away from home, and “potential social and emotional consequences.”
The 2019-20 school year was scheduled to be the final year of elementary school trips. Due to the pandemic, trips have been canceled since March 2020, but it turns out that they won’t be back until this school year, as parents had hoped.
Hamilton, who replaced Dr. Victoria Kniewell when she retired last summer, was not involved in these discussions, but returned to examine the history to present to the community. called it a “difficult decision” with “the best of intentions”, with “extensive and thoughtful outreach to incorporate input from stakeholders” and a “fun and enriching” overnight trip. I arrived at it by considering how to replace it with “experience”.
Many other districts have also “ruled out this type of overnight trip,” the letter said.
“Canceling this experience will disappoint many, especially those who would have benefited as students or who wanted their children to participate in the same experience their older siblings might have enjoyed. “The elementary school will continue to work with PTS to provide students with enriching programming and experiences, create memories they will cherish for a lifetime, and create new experiences,” the letter said. We believe in building tradition.
“We apologize that our efforts to effectively communicate this change have prevented many parents from benefiting from the complex and comprehensive process that led to this decision. It is a key component of our ongoing commitment to ensuring the safety of our students inside and our commitment to inclusiveness for all students.”
Andrea White, a parent of three Edgemont students in grades K, 6 and 10, said at a school and administrative board meeting on Tuesday, January 24, that she and others in the community were “blind” to the decision. A petition calling for a reconsideration of the policy gathered 300 signatures. She said the letter, which “gives some context,” was appreciated, but said there was “deep disappointment and deep frustration” with the decision.
“I am neither impressed nor satisfied with it. I know others feel the same way,” White said. I strongly disagree with the statement that it has been reached.I am an active parent in the district and have never heard of the possibility of an overnight trip being cancelled.”
White said he wished their voices had been heard before “fear-based” policy changes.
“These trips are loved not only because they are decades-old traditions, but because they offer something intangible that a regular excursion doesn’t give,” she said. rice field. “Research shows that overnight trips give students a sense of independence, enhance their social and emotional well-being, and enhance positive social interactions. districts should prioritize encouraging more connections and friendships rather than robbing them of that opportunity. But in districts like ours, if there is a desire to find a problem, no concern can be addressed and we do not believe that a solution can be found.”
Another parent whose children graduated in 2008 and 2010 said trips to Japan, Washington DC, Philadelphia, etc. were “amazing” and “horrified” when they found out they had been eliminated. rice field.
“My kids grew up on these trips,” she said. It’s very different when it comes to not only learning to do but sharing a hotel room and all that stuff, we get along well with each other. They are sometimes put in groups, but it’s all just adapting and learning to stand out from our watchful eyes.”
School Board President Monica Suganga told the Inquirer that the board is aware that changes are being considered and enacted. Before becoming president this semester, was on the Curriculum Committee when the issue was first discussed before the pandemic.
“They knew it wouldn’t be completely popular with all parents, so they were willing to explore other ways to enrich opportunities for students in other ways.” Mr Sganga said. “It was going to be introduced to my parents because it makes sense…
“But I think what’s been lost is the graceful transition in communicating with my parents. And it was kind of a blast when my parents heard rumors that they had no plans for a trip this year.” I tried to anticipate it with a letter.”
Sganga said the feedback he’s received from the community so far is “very evenly split.”
“We understand that parents are upset, we make sure they feel they are being listened to, and we intend for Dr. Hamilton to contact them and give them the opportunity to do so.” She said. “What’s new to the Board is not that this was the direction of the curriculum, but how emotional the subject matter was. The pandemic just slammed into the suspension of everything.” And the question was, why go back to something you were trying to eliminate. Anyway?”
Hamilton introduced several changes and upgrades to the budget process leading to budget presentation. A “budget defense round” was held by the principal and department heads, presenting improved facts, figures and charts to the Board and the community. He said it was “time consuming” but also “worth it”.
February 7 (Curriculum and Instruction, Student HR Services and Technology) and February 28 (Building Level Budget, Enrollment and Staffing Forecasts, Presentation Budget Work Session March 7 and Budget April 18 Submission of an administrative budget proposal prior to adoption).
“We are developing presentation templates to be time-sensitive and content-savvy in this process to create a user-friendly financial plan for the district’s academic vision,” said Hamilton. rice field.
Paul said the governor’s office and state legislation still need to solidify aid numbers, but there are many assumptions and estimates that can be made to get the process started.
The district expects state foundation grants to increase from $3.54 million this year to $4.87 million next year.
Edgemont currently invests at an interest rate of 4.2%, which has pros and cons as the interest rate on borrowing is high and costs are high. By last month, the district had earned $194,000 in interest, and Paul estimates an additional $400,000 in his final six months of the fiscal year based on a 3% interest rate “assumed to be conservative.” increase.
The county’s sales tax has shown a “rapid, positive linear trend” since changes were made in 2018, and the district will spend $845,000 this year, $130,000 more than expected in last year’s budget process. expected to bring.
Edgemont also earns income from tuition fees from other school districts and nonresident families. This year Edgemont has her five out-of-district special education students earning $513,000 and expenses are included in these expenses. At least three of her others are set to return next year with her expected $360,900. These charges are set by the state.
The school district had 10 nonresidents this year. Her board-approved K-6 student fee for this year is $28,340, and for grades 7 through her 12, he is $37,788. Paul says his eight students will join Edgemont next year with an estimated $290,000.
Ending the pandemic hiatus, the district has resumed renting building space and indoor and outdoor exercise facilities to outside groups, bringing in $144,000 this year and an estimated $150,000 next year. Fee increases are included.
Overall state aid, including Foundation Aid, is expected to be $6.6 million to $8.1 million. The property tax, which collected $56.9 million last year, will be finalized in next month’s budget.
Each year since the 2015-16 budget cycle when the district decided to exceed the tax cap, the district has used a minimum of $1 million in unallocated funds balance within the budget.
“I think we need to be strategic about the use of reserves this year, along with the expected debt service as a result of this work,” Paul said. “That’s how we can manage the impact on taxpayers for years to come.”
Paul said the district expects to have a “better estimate” in the next 30 days.