Today I’ll be at Lewiston High School to talk about some of the targeted education support in Governor Paul R. LePage’s proposed two-year budget. These supports include funding to help districts implement the proficiency-based diploma and teacher evaluation systems; to expand access to college opportunities through five-year high school/associate’s degree programs, dual credit, and Adult Ed transition programs; and to make the kinds of supports and technical assistance that have been available only to Title I schools available to all schools.
These efforts are at the core of the Department’s restructured work to provide more and direct assistance to school districts in order to improve student achievement. The proposed education budget for the next two years includes creating an Office of School Improvement and Support, which supports that work and that focus.
Despite the challenges of the current fiscal climate, with cuts to many state agency budgets, schools will still receive $84 million more over the first four years of the LePage administration than they would have had the budget been flat-funded at the 2010-11 level, before he took office. (This figure does account for the retirement adjustment.)
I’m also using today’s visit to Lewiston to continue my tour of promising practices. I look forward to sitting in on a session in which Michelle Crowley, a social studies teacher, will videotape one of the virtual lessons she offers as a teacher with the Massachusetts Virtual High School Collaborative. Then I’ll be talking with a few LHS students who take virtual classes through the same collaborative to supplement their educational program, and with Superintendent Bill Webster about why he advocates for this kind of learning in his schools (nearly 50 students there are taking virtual classes, and he hopes to increase that number).
I’ll also be learning about the school’s very active College for ME program, which puts more students in early college classes than almost any other high school in the state. Bill has a plan to expand and formalize that work through a College Scholars Program, which his board has just approved.
All of this, plus a couple of meetings with teachers and principals, should round out an extremely busy and, I anticipate, very informative day.