Superintendent’s Report March

Regular Meeting
6:00 PM, Monday, March 13, 2017
Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

1. Planning for Proficiency Based Education 101

a. Assessing Multiple Pathways (Handout)
What you need to know:
Students attain proficiency on graduation standards and the Guiding Principles by demonstrating their knowledge and skills on learning targets.

Students can accumulate evidence of learning from a variety of tasks in a variety of courses, programs, and experiences.

In Maine, it is the responsibility of the diploma-granting school to determine if students have met their district’s graduation standards, regardless if the learning occurs in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, an alternative program, or another approved experience, as we have defined in our Multiple Pathways policy.

b. Transfer Students (Handout)

What you need to know:
The assessment and interpretation of a transfer student’s transcript is the responsibility of the principal or his/her designee, as required by state law and determined by local policy.

A student’s transcript is the official document representing the full range of student work and achievement.

Proficiency-based transcripts should provide a more detailed representation concerning what students know and are able to do.

2. Maine Teacher of the Year Program communicated the following nominations for 2017 Penobscot County Teacher of the Year of Laura Stowe, Special Education Teacher at BCS; Al Chambers, Grade 6 teacher at BCS; Brittney McElvaine, Penquis Pre-K Teacher at BCS and Arthur Libby, Science Teacher at BHS.   (letters enclosed)

3. Budget Talking Points and Testimony March 3rd (Letter Enclosed)

Specific changes as proposed as part of the Biennial Budget bill include:

·         Title I Revenues Adjustment for Elementary & Secondary removed from per pupil rate calculation
o   Teacher Student: Staff Ratio for Grades 6-8 changed from 16:1 to 17:1
o   Teacher Student: Staff Ratio for Grades 9-12 changed from 15:1 to 16:1
o   Ed Techs Student: Staff Ratio for Grades K-5 changed from 100:1 to 114:1
o   Ed Techs Student: Staff Ratio for Grades 6-8 changed from 100:1 to 312:1
o   Ed Techs Student: Staff Ratio for Grades 9-12 changed from 250:1 to 316:1
·         System Admin Support for K-8 and 9-12 removed from per pupil rate calculation and funds directed to regional solutions instead
·         Targeted Funds for Pre-K Pupils discontinued
·         Targeted Funds for K-2 Pupils increased from .10 to .15
·         Declining Enrollment Adjustment discontinued
·         Minimum Special Education Adjustment increased from 30% to 33%

Gretchen will review the ED 279 during her report and what these proposed changes have done to our subsidy for the 17-18 year with 48 MORE subsidized students. This should have been a year where we saw a gain in subsidy. Instead we are seeing a loss in state subsidy.

4. Principal Hiring Process Update

The position has been posted and applications are coming in.  Committees have been formed.  Interview questions for each round and writing prompt are prepared, as well as, presentation topics selected.  Training for the committees has been scheduled.

5. Update on Federal Reversal of OCR Guidance on Transgender Students

Summary: As educators in Maine commonly know, the Maine Human Rights Act protects students from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  Moreover, the Maine Supreme Court, in a historic 2014 decision – Doe v. Regional School Unit 26, 2014 ME 11 (Jan. 30, 2014) – ruled that denying a student access to a communal bathroom consistent with the student’s gender identity constituted sexual orientation discrimination in violation of the Maine Human Rights Act.  MSMA previously issued a memorandum explaining the Doe decision in February of 2014.  We also have a school policy that supports our transgender students.

The Maine Human Rights Commission has also issued guidance on the rights of transgender students, and that guidance makes clear that the Commission liberally construes the Maine Human Rights Act and its rules to facilitate inclusion and educational opportunity for transgender individuals.  In sum, schools in Maine cannot separate or segregate students, restrict their access to communal bathrooms or otherwise treat them differently because of their sexual orientation, which includes gender expression and gender identity.  The current loss of Title IX protection previously extended by the federal government to transgender students does not alter that responsibility in Maine schools.

6.  Strategic Planning Meeting was postponed due to a snow day.  This delays the presentation by a month as we need to meet one more time before we present to you.  The plan is completed, we just need to review it and then bring to the board for formal approval.

7.  Provided updated legislation list for the 128th Legislature.  Things to pay attention to:

a. An Act To Allow Municipal Governing Boards of 3 Members To Perform Official Duties via Technology – This could allow for official duties to be performed via technology including meetings.
b. An Act To Amend the Mathematics Requirements for High School Graduation- This helps all high school students graduate as it amends that not all students need all of Algebra II in order to graduate.
c. An Act To Reduce Absenteeism in Students from Kindergarten to Third Grade – While the intentions of this act are good, the incentives to offer gift cards to get students to come to school may cause problems and may entice some families to keep kids home to get the gift cards.  We need to create school systems where students want to come to school and are excited about learning and help parents with the issues they are facing at home.
d. An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2018 and June 30, 2019 – This one is opposed by MSSA.  Please read my testimony letter for March 3, 2017.

Superintendent’s Report February


Regular Meeting

6:00 PM, Monday, February 6, 2017

Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

  1.  MSSA Legislative Committee – Position on Bills 128th Legislature-1st Session (enclosure)

Important takeaways:

  1. An Act to Strengthen Requirements for Water Testing for Schools – Brewer is currently testing the water through free testing sources provided by the state as a precautionary measure.
  2. An Act to Provide for Fairness in the Transfer of Students – This has to do with Superintendent’s agreements and superintendent’s continue to be concerned about the appeal process and the impacts this process has on our current student population.
  3. An Act to Improve Science and Engineering Education for Maine’s Students –This bill ensures that science and engineering standards are established.
  4. An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Teacher Certification – This is related to the updates provided to you two months ago. There are some concerns regarding additional costs and training district will need to provide teachers.
  5. An Act to Realign the State-Municipal Revenues Sharing Distribution – This bill proposes to realign the percentage of revenue from the sales and use taxes, 6 the service provider tax and the income taxes that is transferred monthly from the General Fund to the Local Government Fund under state-municipal revenue sharing.
  1.  Budget Overview with City

Gretchen and I met with Steve Bost and Karen Fussell to review our budget situation for the 17-18 school year.  We reviewed special education costs, teacher contract negotiations, salaries and insurance, state subsidy proposed reductions, and other expenditures impacting our budget.  This will be an unusually difficult year as many of our expenditures are items we cannot cut.  Increase enrollment is a good thing in some regards but we have seen an increase in 37% to our special education department which impacts our budget significantly.

  1. State Subsidy Concerns (MSSA Letter to Commissioner Hasson)

A letter was sent by the Executive Committee of the MSSA representing the Superintendents requesting we receive our ED 279 which will let us know our state subsidy.  With the governor’s proposed budget cuts and not having the ED 279, makes it incredibly difficult to prepare our budgets.  Some of the proposed cuts by the governor are:  no state subsidy for central office staff, no funding of MLTI, and increased coverage of our portion of Maine State Retirement.  We also do not know what the proposed EPS funding formula will be.  The state is also looking at a statewide teacher contract.

  1. 8th Grade Recruiting Visits/Step-Up Day/Parent Night

We have visited Hermon, Dedham, Orrington, Holbrook and All Saints.  There are 201 eighth-grade students in these schools and the visits went very well.  If we continue to receive similar percentages, we are looking at a large incoming 9th-grade class next year.  This also will impact our budget as current freshmen teachers teach one class off team and will most likely need to teach all freshmen classes next year.  We will know more as students register for classes.  The due date for enrolling into Brewer is March 31st .

  1. Proficiency-based Diploma Transition High School Update (Implementation Steps and Progress)
    1. Identify Content Area Measurement Topics and Learning Targets: We are finalizing this work through department meetings aligning to courses creating multiple pathways for students.  Teachers are also creating additional learning targets that are beyond “graduation requirements” for additional learning pathways and our more rigorous diploma options.
    2. Developing Scoring Criteria: All learning targets currently in Empower, our reporting system, has scoring criteria.  We will need to practice scoring student work to this criteria next year to ensure reliability and validity of our scoring system.
    3. Assess the Guiding Principles: Our educational system of planning learning, addresses the guiding principles on a regular basis.  Scoring criteria exists for the guiding principles.  We need to ensure that all guiding principles are being assessed multiple times throughout high school and are beginning this alignment.  The capstone project will be the culminating assessment.
    4. Align Learning Targets: We are currently meeting with all content areas aligning our learning targets to all of our courses.  This will then be put into a comprehensive program of studies and grading guide for students and families.
    5. Review and Revise District Policies: We have a plan and timeline to address the list of proficiency-based policies needed to be in place by September.
    6. Develop a Reporting System: We have a reporting system called Empower that allows students, teachers and parents to view proficiency on learning targets. It prints progress reports, report cards and transcripts.  It can be used as an online classroom as well.  Teachers are being trained on this system on March 3rd.
    7. Conduct Public Forums: We have held two public forums that have addressed proficiency-based education and two parent nights.  We will continue to address this with parents and our community.
    8. Redesign Organizational Structures and Strategies: This one has to do with scheduling, intervention systems and supports for a personalized learning environment.  The high school continues to work on these processes.  The teacher advisory group is currently working on scheduling options.
    9. Developing Assessments and Units: Teachers have many materials created that they are able to still use that are aligned to learning targets.  Once learning targets are completing aligned to courses, teachers will need to “tweak” current assignments and assessments to make sure they are aligned to the learning targets.  Creation of new learning opportunities may also be needed to help students benefit from diverse way of demonstrating achievement.
    10. Revise the Student Transcript: By being part of the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning, we have done this.  Our Empower system helps with this.  You will see an example of this when the transcript policy comes forward.
  1. Proficiency-based Diploma Policy List and Timeline (See Timeline)
  • Graduation Requirements (Policy File IKF) FEBRUARY
  • Multiple Pathways (Policy File IKFF) FEBRUARY
  • Academic Recognition: Latin Honors and Grade Point Averages (Policy File IKD) MARCH
  • Transcripts (Policy File IKC) MARCH
  • Grading and Reporting System (Policy File IKA) MARCH
  • Dual Enrollment and Early College (Policy File IHCDA) APRIL
  • Assessment of Student Learning (Policy File ILA) APRIL
  • Promotion, Retention, and Acceleration (Policy File IKE) APRIL
  • Demonstrations of Learning, Exhibitions, and Capstone Projects (Policy File ILA) MAY
  • Academic Interventions (Policy File JCDL) MAY
  • Personal Learning Plans (Policy File ILAPL) MAY
  • Portfolios (Policy Files ILA and ILAPL) JUNE
  • Attendance (Policy File JEA) JUNE
  • Academic Eligibility: Athletics and Co-Curricular Activities (Policy File JJIC) JUNE
  1. PBE Lesson 101:  Why we need to change to PBE? (Presentation)
  1. Strategic Planning Update

Met and reviewed the feedback data from the surveys. 96% positive from the community and teachers.  We are making final changes and placing into charts with timelines for our goals.  Meeting one more time in February and bringing forward in March.

  1. Principal Search Survey Results and Posting Update (Results shared)

We had over 400 people complete the survey. Posting for the Principal will be posted by the end of the week based on the survey results and our high school principal job description. I have already received one application from an out-of-state applicant based on viewing the survey.


Superintendent’s Report January


Regular Meeting

6:00 PM, Monday, January 9, 2017

Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

A. December Recognitions

  1. JMG has a new partnership in coordination with DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) and OCFS (Office of Child and Family Services)  to work with a specific group of students in foster care with intent. As we know, this is a population who often falls through the cracks, despite everyone’s best intention and all the resources available to them. Between Sarah White and our JMG LEAP coordinator, Michelle Bourne, we are looking to close some of those cracks to make sure these students are getting all they are eligible for to best help them pursue meaningful careers and livelihoods. Four students were identified for the LEAP program. On Friday, December 16th, the students attended a training called Opportunity Passport, a financial literacy training.  In return for doing the training, the students earned $100 and a savings account that JMG matches dollar for dollar, up to $1000 a year.  These students will continue to be mentored during the high school personalized learning time and have additional scholarship opportunities as well.  Congratulations to Sarah White for bringing this program to our students.
  2. Skype with Antarctica:   The third grade recently skyped with researcher Jean Pennycook who studies the nesting habits of the adelie penguin.
  3. Congratulations to the Brewer Music Department (Brady Harris, Heather MacLeod and Lanissa Nadeau) for another successful winter concert season in December.  All concerts were well attended and the music was superb.

B. Strategic Planning Update

The community forum was held on December 8th.  We had about twenty people in attendance and collected data on the five focus areas.  This data along with faculty feedback data will determine the final draft.  Our next strategic planning meeting is on January 19th at 5PM.

C. Student Voice Group Update

The student group if finalizing their ideas on cell phone regulations within the high school to present to the faculty.  It is taking them a little longer to organize their thoughts but they are working hard to get this done.

D. Acting Commissioner Hasson Announces $3 Million Available for Grants to School Administrative Units for Regionalization and Efficiency Efforts (Article):  Why is this important?

I wanted to inform you about the recent announcement regarding regionalization and efficiency efforts from the Department of Education.  There is 3 Million dollars available in grant money for these efforts.  Penquis superintendents have a model already existing for how we run professional development through PREP for our region.  Due to this, we have been speaking about other initiatives that might bring money to our region.  Alternative education regionalization at the middle school level and transportation are some of the ideas being explored.  Article is provided for you.  

E. Freshmen Teaming Professional Development Day

On Friday, January 6, Renita Ward-Downer and I, lead a professional development day with the freshmen team teachers at the high school.  This retreat day focused on best practices in teaming models, creating foundation for improving teaming model at the high school, looking at grading practices in a proficiency-based model, reflected on our own grading practices, created common grading practices, reviewed our new data management system and discussed how we will manage two systems until we are able to make a full transition.  It was a very beneficial day.  We plan to offer similar days with other groups of teachers within the high school.

F. Getting Ready for Our Incoming Freshmen Class – First PBE Diploma Class

Starting Tuesday, January 11th, the high school begins their sending school district visits as part of our recruiting efforts for the 2017-18 school year.  The materials that are typically shared had to be revamped due to changes in the first PBE diploma class. We are visiting the following schools in January:  Dedham, Holbrook, Glenburn, Center Drive and All Saints.  Airline has no 8th graders this year.  There are 201 potential 8th graders from sending school districts that we will meet.  High school ambassadors will come with Perry Bennett, Samantha Pangburn and myself to visit these students.  We will review our academic programming, athletics, AFJROTC, PCHC, STEM*, clubs/activities, music, theatre, robotics, etc. (*New initiative in the budget proposal).  All students will be invited to participate in Step Up Day on January 26th.

G. Presentation to Penquis Superintendents at UTC in December on Brewer’s PBE Model, Curriculum and Transcript Process

I recently presented to the Penquis Superintendents, UMaine and DOE representatives regarding Brewer’s PBE Model, Curriculum and Transcript Process.  It was well received and many questions were asked.  This presentation and overview will be presented to the school committee in small pieces each month through PBE Lesson 101.  

H. PBE Lesson 101:  Learning targets guide what it is we want students to know and be able to do.  Teachers are currently working to align all courses and classroom lessons to learning targets.  (Handout from Empower:  New Student Information System)

Teachers are using Empower to identify standards to create learning activities/lessons that are aligned to these learning targets. Teachers are beginning to ask themselves how do I help students demonstrate their learning of a learning target?  As we move to proficiency-based education, it is important that teachers focus on the learning that is obtained on each learning target and create pathways for how students can demonstrate learning in multiple ways.  We will continue to provide professional development. The handout I have provided this month, shows you the system we are using.  It has the learning targets across the top, students and where students are at with each learning target.  Teachers will be practicing with this system during the 3rd and 4th quarter.
I. Update on Trademark of Brewer Witches and Mascot Process

I researched briefly the process of trademarking the “Brewer Witch” and the actual logo.  It is a pretty simple process that requires a search, which I already completed and there is not another Brewer Witch copyright that has been submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office.  I also researched through the National Federation of State High School Associations to find out what other schools have trademarked logos/mascots/etc.  There have been quite a few high schools that have received cease and desist from colleges that have same logos or mascots as there are increased revenues for colleges/universities from logoed apparel and merchandise.  

  • High schools might be best served by trademarking their nicknames, logos and mascots, and copyrighting all design-related artwork for logos and mascots. Trademarks are obtained through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ( and copyrights are available through the U.S. Copyright Office administered by the Library of Congress ( Easily navigable, streamlined application processes have been created for both and they are available at low cost (see websites for details). ($300/trademark)
  • High schools might be best served by using the NFHS Licensing Program through the Licensing Resource Group (LRG) to protect their marks and benefit from LRG’s marketing efforts to earn royalties on their marks. Complete information and an easy-to-complete online licensing agreement are available at the LRG website (
    • For more than 20 years Licensing Resource Group (LRG) has helped colleges and universities protect their trademarks, promote their brands, and generate profit through the sale of licensed merchandise. Now LRG Prep makes this possible for high schools as well. By joining the NFHS Licensing Program your high school is partnering with the industry’s premier trademark protection and brand-building agency.
    • LRG Prep offers high school administrators assistance with financial auditing of licensees, legal consultation, retail merchandising, e-commerce, and brand development – all at no cost to high schools. Please contact LRG Prep to learn more about controlling the use of your school name, logos, and mascot through the NFHS Licensing Program.

J. Update on Brewer High School Principal Hiring Process 

Position will be posted in February with interviews to begin in March.  Candidate’s name will be brought forward in April/May depending on timeline completion.


Superintendent’s Report December


Regular Meeting
6:00 PM, Monday, December 5, 2016

Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

a. Cherrie MacInnes is the guest of Educate Maine’s, 2016 Annual Education Symposium and will be recognized on Friday, December 9, 2016, in Portland. Superintendent Towle will be attending with her.

b. Fall Athletic season was extremely successful. All of our teams made it into playoffs. All of our coaches and athletes are to be commended for a great season of representing Brewer in our community and in other Maine communities. Congratulations to David Utterback for another successful season.

c. The 35th Annual Turkey Trot was successful yet again even though the weather didn’t quite cooperate. Thank you to Sarah White and the many volunteers that helped make the event a success.

d. Our Veteran’s Day Assembly was one of the most moving, inspirational assemblies Brewer High School has had to date. The theme of past, present and future brought stories from our faculty and prior student veterans. Each veteran received a walking stick with a Brewer coin sealed at the top. Thank you to Tony Campbell, Bre Pelletier and Brady Harris for organizing the event.

e. Our Mock Trial team is having a very successful season. The Brewer High School Mock Trial team won both rounds against Hampden on November 12 and both rounds against Sumner on November 19. The team is now moving on to semi-finals against Kennebunk on December 3 in Portland. They have all worked very hard and their efforts have paid off.

f. Open Mic Night was a wonderful night of laughter and great music. We have very talented students.

g. Jeff Coffin and the Jazz Bands: I had the pleasure of attending this event with Samantha Pangburn, her first Brewer music event. I remember hearing my first music event and I just watched her face as the first notes flowed through PAC. It was priceless! What an experience for our students and teachers to work with Jeff Coffin that week. Who knew you could play two saxophones at the same time! Congratulations to all those involved.

h. Midsummer Night’s Dream Production: Congratulations to another successful drama production. This one included actors of all ages.

i. On Nov. 17, Bangor Federal matched the “Nickels with Noah” fundraiser for the third year in a row. The total funds raised for EMHS Foundation Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals this year equaled $14,223.40. Nickels with Noah was successful for another season of collection.

2. Strategic Planning Update

a. Community Forum will be held on December 8, 2016 at BHS Cafeteria at 6:30 PM.

b. Feedback will also be collected online through a survey on our district web page and through faculty feedback in December.

c. The committee will use this feedback to improve upon the plan and bring a completed presentation to the committee in February.

3. Student Voice Group Update

The student voice group at the high school has been working to reshape the cell phone regulation. After review of the policy, they found the policy very open to what they were trying to do but found the regulation inhibited usage of cell phones during any part of their day. They have collected data from surrounding school districts, have prepared a presentation for the faculty on December 8th and will come to the school committee to share their work in January. They have done a great job learning about policy making and advocating for their needs.

4. Chapter 115 Certification, Authorization, and Approval of Education Personnel (Handout)

As of October 11, 2016 there is a new draft for Chapter 115 that will be taken up in this coming legislature. The superintendents have been working with MSSA, to collect survey data in regards to the proposed draft. This data will be used to present testimony on what these changes could mean to our districts. A handout specifically outlining the concerns is provided in your packets. These changes could have direct impact on our budget process for 2019 and certification of personnel, as well as, hiring decisions. However, it could impact next year’s budget if more people need to take courses to meet the new requirements.

5. BEA Monthly Meeting

I just wanted to report out to the committee that monthly meetings have been occurring with the BEA. These meetings have been going very well where we discuss what is going well, what issues might be under the surface and make plans together. The most recent meeting we had was a meet and consult over the BCS 3rd/4th grade Literacy Block. This meeting went very well with a clear understanding of the purpose, how it was providing our students with reading and writing instruction plus any addition designed instruction needed as required in their IEP’s. Students are now receiving the same classroom experiences as their peers, and more resources to improve their reading and writing skills. I just wanted to let the BEA know how thankful I am to them for our continued working relationship that focuses on our district vision, mission and core values.

6. Building Assets Reducing Risks Teaming Model (BARR)

Recently I have met with both 9th-grade teams at Brewer High School to discuss their teaming model. We discussed what is working well, what needs to improve and how they address students’ needs. They asked about a vision for the freshmen teams within our new vision and mission. I briefly discussed the BARR model. This strategy is innovative and proven to transform schools. This educational model integrates the Developmental Assets framework, Risk and Protective factors focused on prevention strategies and the Attribution Theory of Student Motivation. It is unique in its approach to addressing the needs of students using two fundamental and interrelated pillars:

a. Creating positive, intentional relationships staff to staff, staff to students, students to students

b. Using real-time student level performance data to guide collaborative problem solving and instructional action

Currently, our teachers have many of the structures in place but have not had the training. Teachers will be reviewing this model and seeing how it fits into our mission and vision.

7. Redefining Ready: Additional Pathways to Diploma (Article Provided)

AASA has started a national campaign called “Redefining Ready”. This national campaign was unanimously supported at the Maine Superintendent’s Conference in November. I provide this information to you as it provides the district with other pathways or indicators for students to demonstrate college readiness and/or career readiness. This may be another reporting mechanism for demonstrating readiness along with our proficiency reporting mechanism through Empower.