The Berlin School District was awarded a grant to find out how the rural school districts of Androscoggin Valley can work together to create better schools, according to the Berlin Daily Sun:
Cascadden described the proposal as transformative, noting there is no model for what the districts are looking to do which is create a new education future based on regional collaboration.
Part of the process will include what the grant application terms “a robust community engagement process.” A project manager will be hired along with the civil engagement organizations, North Country Listens and NH Listens.
A steering committee will be established with administrators from both SAUs, school board members, students, parents, teachers, elected officials, business and community leaders, city and municipal representatives. The committee will collect input from a diverse mix of voices through community conversations, focus groups, interviews and surveys.
The N.H. Center for Public Policy will provide data on subjects such as demographic data, state education funding changes and financial impacts on local communities.
At the end of the process, the effort will conclude with ideas and priorities for future implementation. In addition to bringing diverse viewpoints to the process, the public participation component is designed to increase trust, improve communications and strengthen relationships needed to implement those recommendations…
Driving the effort to look at regionalization of education are some hard economic facts. Student enrollment is decreasing. The Berlin school district has seen a steady decline in enrollment, from 1,666 students in 2001 to the 1,154 today. At the same time, state funding for education is decreasing as the state phases out educational stabilization funding. For Berlin, the impact is $219,824 annually over a 20-year period.