Camden Hills to remain member of NEASC for time being
Rockport — Publicly-aired concerns regarding Camden Hills Regional High School’s possible withdrawal from New England’s only school accreditation association have promoted school officials to reconsider.
An email home to parents stated after hearing public comment at a March 18 meeting about the potential withdrawal, school officials decided to retain membership to New England Association of Schools and Colleges for at least the next year.
The email read, “As many of you know, we recently had a community discussion about our NEASC accreditation. Shortly after that meeting, the school board decided to remain affiliated with NEASC for at least another year while we formed a task force that could explore viable alternatives. That task force will be comprised of teachers, parents, administrators, and students. We anticipate four parent representatives. If you would like to participate on this task force, please let Nick Ithomitis know.”
NEASC and Camden Hills/Camden-Rockport High School have a relationship going back to 1969. To retain accreditation, the school is required to have a site review every 10 years. The school must also submit interim two and five-year reports, as well as any other special reports requested. Currently, Camden Hills is in the middle of a 10-year cycle.
While school officials previously admitted there is value in accreditation, there was a growing concern the price of that “stamp of approval” could soon outweigh its value. Currently, the cost of a site visit can cost upwards of $35,000; this does not include $3,200 per year to be a member of NEASC.
At the March meeting, Assistant Superintendent Maria Libby said school board members recognize concerns about dropping NEASC accreditation and school officials need to critically evaluate the educational value of the process.
Libby also explained accreditation does not affect the schools ability to participate in foreign exchange programs or offer Advanced Placement and college credit courses through Syracuse University.
Accreditation is voluntary in Maine and currently 89 out of 120 schools are accredited through NEASC.
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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