Strategic plan guides Cumberland, North Yarmouth when schools reopen

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CUMBERLAND — A three-year strategic plan approved in June is guiding School Administrative District 51 when schools reopen next month.

Most of the district’s new work and programming stems from the strategic plan, which runs through June 2018, Superintendent Jeff Porter said Aug. 12.

As part of the plan, an ad-hoc group will look into starting a pre-kindergarten program, and the district will review how its proficiency grading approach lines up with graduation requirements, Porter said.

Proficiency grading involves learning targets that students are expected to reach, “but there may be different ways for them to get to the target,” the superintendent said.

“Everything that we’re working on now, the board’s really committed to having it in a plan,” he said. “And working off of this plan, and not adding things out of the blue.”

The district will also offer a new version of the K-5 Everyday Math program, which should be more in line with state Common Core learning standards, Porter said. SAD 51 is also looking into its science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM program, which exists at the middle school and could be fully expanded to all grades.

Implementation of regular late-start days for middle and high school students are also being reviewed this year. Next year there could be a pilot program, where students would start later, but end at the regular time, on what are currently early release days.

“This idea actually came from a lot of the kids,” Porter said, noting that high school students in particular have said that commitments such as jobs, athletic events and homework force many of them to get to bed late, leaving them fatigued early in the morning.

Research has also shown that adolescents should not be getting up that early, Porter added.

One new position, approved by the School Board in April, is a pathways specialist, who would work with middle and high school students with unique learning needs.

The district’s Facilities Committee in the next year will work on a five-year capital plan. Ideas for facilities projects have included a performing arts center, and renovation of the two-decade-old Mabel I. Wilson elementary school.

Facilities work this summer has included paving in front of Greely High School, and improvement of the gym and pool locker room floors.

Grades 1-12 go back to school Sept. 2, and kindergarten follows on Sept. 8. Log onto for more information.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Greely High School in Cumberland goes back to school Sept. 2.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.