The Maine School Administrative District 40 School Board honored long-serving staff at the Sept. 16 meeting at the Friendship Village School. There was also a discussion of President Barack Obama’s speech to students, Medomak Middle School learning initiatives, a letter to parents about students’ Social Security numbers and a request by the senior class for late arrival or early dismissal.

The school board and superintendent thanked several employees that retired or left the district, including Herman Heintz, 12 years of service; Ann Hassett, 22 years of service;  Claire Belyea, 39 years of service; Nancy Jones, 29 years of service; Claire Riser, 22 years of service; and Ann Kofler, 21 years of service.

Board Chairman Bonnie Davis Micue presented plaques to the long-serving employees and Superintendent Francis Boynton shook their hands.

Medomak Middle School Principal Benjamin Vail updated board members about some learning initiatives, including 70-minute math classes and meetings during the school day to help students. He said there are 162 seventh-graders, and there are 300 students in the building for the first time.

The superintendent said the district received notice about President Obama’s speech only a few days before it was televised. He said arrangements were made so schools could show the speech, and notes went to parents so they could decide whether or not they wanted their children to watch the speech. Junior and seniors at the high school had the opportunity to watch the speech, and it will be available on DVD for the other classes.

The superintendent also said a new letter was sent home to parents about the state’s request for students’ Social Security numbers. He said a few Social Security numbers were returned based on the original letter, and those have been destroyed. At the last school board meeting, members voted to express to parents that students’ Social Security numbers should not be sent to the state for tracking purposes.

Quinton Vannah, president of the class of 2010, petitioned the school board to allow seniors with grades better than 85 percent that have study hall in their first or last period be allowed to come to school late or leave early.

“I asked my fellow seniors about this topic, about the reasons why they want to be let our early/ arrive late, and many said ‘because of work,'” Vannah told the board. “Many students in the senior class do have jobs. Some work in the morning and some work at night. Being able to leave early would allow us to go home from school, get studying done before work, have dinner, and get ready for work.”

Medomak Valley High School Principal Harold Wilson said the school has done this for the last three years for seniors, and previously also for juniors. He said 25 to 30 students would use this opportunity.

“Use it well,” Micue said.

Micue also talked about curriculum mandates, specifically the Common Core standards. She said school boards, teachers and administrators have spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars on local assessments. Micue said she takes a dim view of having things wrested away from local control.

According to the state Department of Education Web site, “The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a significant and historic opportunity for states to collectively develop and adopt a core set of academic standards in mathematics and English language arts … In the 2010-2011 school year, Maine will begin implementing the Common Core State Standards for English and mathematics by conducting an alignment study and gap analysis, providing professional development and support for instruction, and by working with other adopting states to develop an aligned assessment system.”

Boynton said this issue was discussed at a recent superintendents meeting. He said local school and districts worked hard in the last few years to develop curriculums, and it would be a step backward to throw out that work.