Bangor, ME: School pop. down; cost of SPED continues to grow

Feb 8, 2018, Bangor (ME) Daily News: 4 lessons from a look at the pressing challenges facing Maine’s schools Maine’s schools are shrinking, their academic performance hasn’t improved substantially in years even as it has in other states, and an achievement gap persists between low-income students and their higher-income peers. … In Portland schools, teachers and administrators are finding some success — particularly in addressing student behavior issues — through concerted efforts to involve parents in key decisions about their children’s education and the school district’s direction. And in Washington County, three elementary schools are taking on an ambitious project that’s all about addressing whatever non-academic baggage students bring to school so they can focus on learning. The nonprofit Cobscook Community Learning Center in Trescott has raised money to pay for in-school mental health counselors for students and training for teachers so they’re equipped to deal with challenges in their students’ lives that interfere with academics. The nonprofit and the participating schools — Milbridge, Jonesport and Charlotte elementary schools — are hoping to make Down East Maine a rural proving ground for methods of addressing trauma and stress that can alter a child’s brain chemistry and hinder learning. Their approach is based on decades-old research into the toll adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) — such as having a parent in prison, growing up in a household without enough food or surviving sexual abuse — take on health and brain development. … The cost of special education represents a growing portion of Maine school budgets, and there’s evidence to suggest fewer children would require special education services if they had ready access to services early in life to address learning disabilities, autism or other special needs.

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