As kids fall behind, is there opportunity for a middle school?

SOMESVILLE, Jan. 2, 2021 – Curriculum Czar Julie Meltzer had just ended her presentation of how behind the K-8 students were because of Covid-19 when John Bench, chair of the Southwest Harbor school board, asked if the schools could continue its outdoor activity wrought by Covid-19 which have reduced behavioral problems.

Meltzer chose her words carefully but answered that it would be easier to accomplish that if MDI had a centralized middle school. Teachers and adult staff at each school is so tightly scheduled, Meltzer said, leaving little flexibility for any extra activity.

The fact is, despite centralizing administrative functions, the system known as alternative organizational structure (AOS) is a frankensteinish body with too many tentacles and bosses.

Each of the eight schools must run the same required curriculum with a limited staff. Teachers often double up on curricula with math teachers also teaching science, etc.

“Every year we get four or five kids at each school ready for geometry,” Meltzer said in an interview. By pooling all those in a single middle school, a class in geometry might be possible. That would be the same for art and music.

The backdrop was a sobering report she presented showing the younger students falling behind faster than the upper grades, especially in math. She ended her presentation on a positive note saying kids are resilient and can make up the year lost. Her presentation may be viewed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZVLnErjpy4&t=2496

It’s anyone’s guess how long it would take for the students to rebound. Would the students falling behind during the pandemic year benefit from a truly efficient use of teaching resources and not just from sharing administrative costs?

One of the schools falling behind is Trenton but you wouldn’t know it from a citizens committee which is recommended Dec. 29 that town’s elementary school withdraw from AOS 91. The committee was formed by the selectmen after years of complaints from some taxpayers about the cost. The committee is separate from the school board which was not in agreement. Trenton will need to sort out its own internecine blood-letting before anyone takes the threat seriously. Here is an article on the Trenton threat .. https://www.ellsworthamerican.com/maine-news/group-urges-trenton-to-leave-aos/