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Home > MSMA News > Problems cited in Snow Pond charter 90-day review – January 5, 2017

Problems cited in Snow Pond charter 90-day review – January 5, 2017

The 90-day review at Snow Pond Arts Academy charter school has found overuse of virtual education for non-arts classes, and special education services are not being provided to the students who need them.

Adding to its issues, the school is running a deficit.

Long-time Maine Superintendent Joe Mattos, who was serving on the Snow Pond Board, has been named interim head of the school to help address the problems. He resigned from the board before taking the new post.

At the Jan. 3 Maine Charter School Commission meeting, the school’s review was handed out and discussed.  The school, which is the state’s first charter school focused on the arts, operates at the site of the New England Music Camp in Sidney and opened this fall. It currently serves 101 students.

In that report, it noted school staff did not have enough training or experience to implement computer learning into a classroom experience, in what is referred to as “blended” learning.

“What’s in the application is great stuff, but we’re using the K-12 online system, and it’s the dominate piece” Mattos said, explaining that K-12 was supposed to be part of the instruction program, not the center of it.

The 90-day review dated Dec. 5 also noted that special education services weren’t being provided due to the resignation of staff.

The report reads:

“Because the school has had staffing difficulties, students requiring specially designed instruction have not received services and the school will need to offer compensatory services to its students. It was recommended that Snow Pond Arts Academy send letters to parents immediately about the status of special education services not being provided to students and that compensatory services would be made available.”

The report also noted the school is running with a deficit. It reads:

“Snow Pond Arts Academy reported $90,000 has been pledged or received from fundraising, and revised state subsidy revenues have been calculated into the budget. The bottom line shows a deficit of $44,048. Any new salaries or unexpected expenses will increase this bottom line. The school is in the process of reconciling some specific payroll issues that have resulted from payroll overpayments since the beginning of the school year. The school has hired an experienced public school operations person to manage the finances of the school and address identified budget issues.”

The report also noted problems with measuring student achievement. Commission Vice Chairman Mike Wilhelm noted that performance measures for academics and arts have not been addressed and asked when the NWEA assessment, used by other charter schools, would be given.  Mattos said the school plans to contract with someone to do the testing, saying they had no one inside the school to do it.

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