Media Archive

School districts to coordinate adult ed programs

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 37, September 15, 2004

By Ben Bragdon
Staff Writer

When most people hear talk of consolidation and regionalization, they think of closing schools and loss of local independence. But some of those efforts, including the recent creation of an adult education cooperative, are made with the hope of maintaining and even augmenting services to communities around the region.

SAD 68 in Dover-Foxcroft has agreed to partner with SAD 4 in Guilford and SAD 41 in Milo to form the Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative under a shared regional adult education director.

"The idea is to provide broader services at less cost while maintaining the local focus in each of the school districts," said SAD 68 Superintendent John Dimbauer. "There is just no sense in having three separate directors of adult education."

SAD 41 Superintendent David Walker said the idea was bom out of regionalization discussions.

"(SAD 4 Superintendent) Paul Steams and I were at a superintendent meeting in Augusta, and we were talking about regionalized programs," said Walker. "We began to brainstorm ideas of programs that we all operate that perhaps there was some potential to enhance program without increasing cost. Adult education popped out as an area we all had, which we felt we could enhance, without losing personal identity."

The pair contacted Dimbauer, who was interested, as well as Dexter and Newport, who were not. The trio of districts aim to begin the joint program in fall 2005, the superintendents said.

"We've been meeting on a regular monthly basis with different people from Department of Education to talk about what the program would look like, funding models, cost-sharing models," said Walker. "We have a lot of that in place already. I feel confident we could go live with this in Fall of '05."

Walker said the cost structure could be similar to that of the Tri-County Technical Center in Dexter, which has students from each of the local school districts.

"Our first task is to seek a regional adult education director," said Walker. "The regional director will have; an office and will probably be housed most centrally, probably in Dover-Foxcroft. But we feel it is important to continue to offer programs in Guilford and Milo."

Under the cooperative, courses will be offered that may have been dropped in the past due to lack of interest.

"Sometimes if we had a computer course, for example, where there were only two people in Guilford and three people in Milo and six people here in Dover, it is really not enough to offer that course three times, Dimbauer said. "But if you put it all together and you offer the course one time for 12-15 people, then it is worthwhile."

Walker said that since little is spent by the districts on adult education, savings may not be seen. But for the same amount of money, the districts will be able to offer; more courses, he said. Dimbauer said adult education is an important part of the school district's goal of life-long learning.

"It is just another in the spectrum of services that we offer to the community," he said. "It is an extension of the local educational programs. There are retraining opportunities. There are courses just for enjoyment."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.