The Maine School Administrative District 40 School Board on March 18 took a stand against what members said is the state’s eroding support for education. In a unanimous vote, with hands raised especially high, board members asked the superintendent to write a letter of support for a resolution to the state about the shift in funding for education.

The resolution starts by saying that Maine voters approved a citizen-initiated referendum in 2004 that called on the state to fund 55 percent of public education.

“The actions of the governor and Legislature have caused a massive shift of the burden of funding of education from the progressive income tax, levied based upon ability to pay, to the regressive property tax, which does not account for a property owner’s ability to pay, particularly if they are on a fixed income,” states the resolution, which is signed by school board chairmen in Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth, Portland, Scarborough, South Portland and Yarmouth.

SAD 40 board member Ann Donaldson said the vote was a chance for the community to make its views known to the state and the Department of Education. Board member Theodore Brown likened the stance to the board’s vote against sending student disciplinary records to the state. Board Chairman Bonnie Davis Micue said SAD 40 is a small district, but maybe this will be like the fable of the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“We might be that straw,” Micue said.

The school board’s other two votes of the night were to add one year to the contract of Business Manager Scott Vaitones and approve the calendar for the 2010-2011 school year.

Vaitones received strong support from the board. Superintendent Francis Boynton said he had no hesitation about nominating Vaitones for the extra year. He said he is pleased to work with the budget manager. Several board members said the budget process is running smoothly with Vaitones’ leadership. For a minute, the board was silent when it came to a discussion of the vote on Vaitones. But it was because no one had any criticisms or complaints.

The 2010-2011 school year will start Monday, Aug. 30. Winter break is scheduled from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3. There will be no school on Friday, April 15 because other regional schools have a teacher workshop day, and SAD 40 will have already used its five workshop days. June 8 is the scheduled day for graduation. It also could be the last day of school but June 15 would be the worst-case scenario if there are a lot of snow days. There are 175 student days and 180 teacher days in the SAD 40 academic calendar.

The board learned about two foreign exchange students and a collaborative project based around an electric car that was built by students at the Mid-Coast School of Technology.

Medomak Valley High School Principal Harold Wilson introduced Selena Ding from China and Katja Assfalg from Germany. The principal said Maine students are learning about the culture of China and Germany, and the exchange students are fitting in great at the school.

Ding said she goes to school in China from 6 a.m. to 11:20 p.m. and has three days of break a month. She said she enjoys art and sports at Medomak Valley because her school is so focused on math, chemistry and biology. Ding lives near Shanghai, a city with a population of more than 10 million people.

“So there’s no culture shock for you,” said Micue, joking.

Ding said she has made a list of 500 culture shocks. She speaks Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Japanese and English.

Assfalg is from Heidelberg, Germany. She said she has also experienced some culture shock. Her school day in Germany is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Assfalg said algebra is easy, but U.S. history is difficult.

Both exchange students said they like their teachers at Medomak Valley.

“It’s like a big family here,” Assfalg said.

“I love every single teacher,” Ding said.

Eight students and their teachers gave a presentation on a collaborative education program based around the design, construction and marketing of an electric car. The program is called Creating a Network of Educators to Communicate About Teaching Math II, or CNECT-Math II. The students talked about the timeline for finishing the electric car, the environmental impact, marketing, collaborations between classes and how they built a vehicle that can reach 90 mph.

The math-science partnership is based on creating a teaching model and educating students about measurement, approximation, data analysis and statistics, and probability. There are 12 teachers in the CNECT-Math II project, including six from the Mid-Coast School of Technology, one from Medomak Valley, three from Thomaston Grammar School, one from Georges Valley High School and one from Rockland District Middle School.

Suzanne Hall, Medomak Valley School to Career coordinator, recently submitted a story about the program, which is available at knox.villagesoup.com/place/story/students-defy-boundaries-as-they-gear-up-to-market-electric-car/312756.

The SAD 40 Budget Committee will host informational sessions on the proposed 2010-2011 budget on Thursday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 30. The meetings will begin at 7 p.m. in the Ronald E. Dolloff Auditorium at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro.