Public hearing on Camden Hills Regional High School withdrawal from NEASC slated

By Dwight Collins | Feb 27, 2014
Photo by: Dwight Collins Diplomas await a Camden Hills Regional High School graduating class.

Rockport — A public meeting has been scheduled to discuss the possibility of Camden Hills Regional High School withdrawing from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Honoring a request from the Community School District school board, school officials have scheduled an open meeting to allow the public to weigh in on the decision to withdraw from NEASC. The meeting is set to take place March 18, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Strom Auditorium.

Camden Hills has a long history of receiving accreditation through NESAC and in order to remain compliant 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.

While accreditation does have its value, the cost of one site visit can be as much as $45,000 and there is growing concern that the cost to remain compliant may soon outweigh its value, Assistant Superintendent Maria Libby said.

“A withdrawal will enable school personnel to refocus time and energy on more meaningful work that is better aligned to our district priorities,” Libby said. “It will also save the taxpayers money because there is sizable out-of-pocket cost to the accreditation process.”

Libby said a great deal of professional development time has been devoted to the accreditation process and withdrawing from NEASC will allow staff to align professional development time to their own areas of priority.

“We have explored the negative implications to withdrawal and there doesn’t seem to be any, other than the value of having an external review for school improvement efforts, but there are other ways of doing that,” she said. “Colleges don't seem to pay much attention to whether a high school is accredited by NEASC, instead relying on the reputation of the school and the success of its students at the secondary level."

Five Town CSD is not alone, Libby said, noting numerous schools in the state are questioning the value of NEASC accreditation due to local financial and time commitments required.

Comments (7)
Posted by: CAMDEN HILLS REGIONAL SCH | Mar 12, 2014 12:14

 

Folks have posted some good questions, raised some valid concerns, voiced some interesting opinions, and presented some inaccurate information.  The reason for the public meeting is to explain the thinking behind the idea, give folks a chance to voice opinions, answer questions and correct false information.  I hope we get great turn out.

Dr. Nick Ithomitis, Principal CHRHS



Posted by: Robert Fernald | Mar 12, 2014 08:42

Suppose they know CHRHS can't meet the accreditation standards? How humiliating for everyone if we were put on probation.

How is the community supposed to know if our schools are up to snuff without an independent body review our schools? I know our administrators want to do their best but every organization needs outside review.

Slippery slope indeed.



Posted by: John and Heidi Karod | Mar 11, 2014 22:20

Another concern is that without accreditation the high school may not be able to host foreign exchange students, who study here on a J-1 visa. This is taken from the U.S. State Department website:

"Secondary school students travel to the United States to study at an accredited public or private high school and live with an American host family or at an accredited boarding school."

 

Foreign exchange students are a valuable asset to our community. They study here as cultural ambassadors. The U.S. State Dept. considers cultural exchanges to be vital to foreign diplomacy and world peace. This is quite different than tuition paying F-1 visa students who are primarily here to further their own education. While they also contribute to diversity, there is a different goal. We do not want to lose accreditation.

 



Posted by: Mary C Throne | Mar 11, 2014 14:11

$45,000 annualized over ten years is $4,500 per year a very small amount.  A University of Maine Study conducted in 2009 suggests that accreditation does matter in college admissions.  A discussion can be found on page 44 of the report at this link:  https://www.umaine.edu/edhd/files/2009/05/hs-accreditation-rpt-121709.pdf

More disconcerting is that most high schools, including CHRHS, only accept transfer credits from an accredited high school.  Specifically CHRHS requires "Students must earn a minimum of 16 credits at CHRHS or as a transfer student from an accredited school in order to be awarded a CHRHS diploma."  CHRHS Student Handbook Section 6.3. This is true for most schools throughout the country if CHRHS gives up its accreditation, then it will be very difficult if not impossible for students to transfer to another high school or academy without giving up the credits earned at CHRHS.

The school district should think long and hard about this before they give up the accreditation for what is at best a savings per year of under $10,000. and more likely a savings of about $7,000 per year.



Posted by: matthew speno | Feb 28, 2014 08:16

Seems that once again this is a money issue.  A savings of $45k in the short run will put the school at risk in the future in terms of its accountability.  Having an outside, impartial body look at the school and provide feedback gives CHRHS a framework from which to strive for excellence.  If this is approved, who will be conducting the same rigorous process to make sure the school is continually improving?  If money is the issue, why not start making cuts at the administrative level to pay for the fees associated with NEASC accreditation.  Furthermore, I would like to see a hard-copy of the school improvement plan which will be put in place if the board ultimately decides having NEASC accreditation is no longer an option.

Shame on the board for even entertaining supplanting excellence with mediocrity.



Posted by: Susan Sinclair | Feb 28, 2014 06:26

Losing accreditation sounds like a very slippery slope. What colleges rely on "reputation"? How about 5 or 8 years from now, when sliding into mediocrity is the easiest, cheapest path?



Posted by: Donna Caron | Feb 27, 2014 18:23

Which schools in the state are questioning the value of membership? Which colleges don't seem to pay attention?



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Dwight Collins
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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