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Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
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January 26, 2018     Quoddy Tides
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January 26, 2018
 

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Page 8 THE QUODDY TIDES 26 January, 2018 SPENDING A DAY IN EASTPORT holding learning events about using restorative justice practices for bullying prevention with AOS 77 staff and community members is Chuck Soufler of Safe Schools for All. (Lora Whelan photo) Bullying expert stresses community effort by Lora Whelan community entities such as business A specialist in using practices original- groups, individual businesses, nonprofifs ly created for restorative justice programs and civic entities to connect with students was on hand in Eastport on January 18 to on projects such as students working at discuss how the restorative approach food pantries or turkey-a-thons, all help to might be used to help with bullying, build that face-to-face climate so often Chuck Saufler of Safe Schools for All missing. spent a good part of the afternoon present- However, when bullying occurs it is of- ing to AOS 77 educators and staff, with ten during the school day when children Eastport Principal Paul Theriault noting spend so much time together. Saufler sug- that over 80 attended. In the evening, Sau- gested using restorative practices such as tier met with community members for an community circles for staff to come to- hour in the Shead High School band room. getber to discuss solutions to a problem, While sounds could be heard coming from or to use the circle approach in class- the nearby gym, packed with family and rooms, not for punishment, but to build friends watching three consecutive bas- trust and respect between students and be- ketball games, the 15 or so parents, staff tween students and educators. "The brain and others listened intently to Saufler. At evaluates for safety first," Saufler pointed theend, parent Michele Thompson told out. "The brain cannot fully function until Sanfler that the presentation was "sorely the threat is resolved." Thus building a needed." She added that it was "really tell- healthy and safe social climate within a ing that there are more parents in the gym- school and classroom is important. Students nasium than here." and staff both need to feel safe, with a safe The restorative approach, Saufler ex- climate including the need to be listened to plained, puts relationships center stage and without preconceived judgment. not just at the school. "If everyone wants Handouts given to staff and community it [bullying] to stop, why do we still have nembers illustrated the circle approach it?" he asked. Schools do not create bul- and the importance of asking questions in lies, he answered. Rather, the national pro- a way that builds a child's ability to re- pensity to use social media as a substitute fleet, reason and develop emotional litera- for person-to-person interactions, and tele- cy. Punishment without reflection, Saufler vision, video and movies that often use noted, results more often than not in the "mean" humor and sarcasm and glorify punishment being attached to "adult hos- wealth and power rather than kindness and tility," not to the behavior. Reflection, on empathy have helped to increase a climate the other hand, when guided by specific of distress. Saufler explained, "Distress is types of questions, helps children and different from stress." While brief bouts adults, both perpetrator and victim, under- of stress can be beneficial to problem solv- stand what happened, the thinking that ing and galvanizing action, distress is a went behind it and then identify what is long-term condition that negatively affects needed to repair the harm done, to reflect brain development, on how the repair worked and the feelings "Face-to-face interactions are key to associated with acceptance or rejection of healthy children," Saufler told his audi- efforts made. "Don't ask why," he warned. ence. But a school alone cannot change "Not much thought goes into the re- the climate of distress that the nation's sponse." children are suffering from. The commu- Before closing the meeting by taking a nity as a whole needs to be involved in few questions, Sanfler said, "I was very reinforcing the value that it places on its impressed with the schools [AOS 77]." children. Community service projects He spent the morning visiting different such as high school students shoveling out schools, including the Eastport Elementa- elders, group endeavors such as the bas- ry School and Shead High School, "look- ketball games that were taking place ing around," and noting how children and across the hall, and concerted efforts by staff interacted. AD Pottle Trucking P.O. Box 194 Eastport, ME 04631 Phone: 853-3137 Fax: 853-7073 David Pottle, Owner Land Clearing Rights of Way Power Lines AOS 77 budget may see slight decrease by Lora Whelan Johnson explained that, with the board's The AOS 77 school board, at its Janu- vote, the contracts for the central office ary 24 meeting, reviewed the proposed staff are on track going into the second AOS 2018-2019 budget for approval at its year of a two-year phase of increases. March meeting. If the budget stands as The budget share for each of the nine written, the budget would decrease by towns in the AOS is based on the resident $4,377 to a total of $607,496. Superinten- student population at the individual dent Kenneth Johnson pointed out that schools and in the school district, Johnson there will be a carryover of $21,000 in the noted. As written, the cost-sharing for the general fund for use in the projected bud- 2018-2019 budget would be as follows: get. He suggested using $15,000 in the Alexander, $55,063; Baring, $28,214; 2018-2019 budget to reduce the overall Charlotte, $51,420; Crawford, $5,006; amount. Dennysville, $30,034; Eastport, $104,210; The budget includes some salary in- Lubec, $105,120; Pembroke, $97,839; creases. After three executive sessions, the Perry, $115,587. board approved a raise for Johnson, in- The board elected Will Bradbury of creasing his salary from $88,434 to Eastport as its chair and Eileen Curry of $90,000. The board also approved a raise Perry as its vice chair. It has tentatively set of $1,500 for Director of Special Services the date to meet on Thursday, March 8, at 6 Beth Cushing for a salary of $61,500. p.m. to finalize and approve the budget. Hearing held on school food-shaming bill by Edward French reduced access to TANF benefits, SNAP With reports that some schools in Maine and healthcare. Families struggle to put have been denying lunches to students be- food on the table every day, and many of cause they were missing lunch money, them are working two or three low-paying legislation is being considered to end the jobs, struggling with competing work practice of punishing certain students for schedules, as well as a lack of access to their inability to pay for a meal or for childcare and transportation," she stated. schools to openly identify or stigmatize a Parents feel guilty when they can't afford student who cannot pay. school lunch fees. She pointed out, "Food During a January 17 hearing by the leg- insecurity is a form of trauma, just as is islature's Education and Cultural Affairs the shame and stigma that children feel Committee on the bill, it was noted that when they are punished in front of their one Washington County teacher related to peers and others by being denied food or the Maine Education Association that her having food withheld due to behavior students were given replacement meals in problems. Being hungry not only affects place of nutritionally balanced meals if behavior, it affects brain development and the child's ability to learn. A hungry child they had overdue bills in the meal pro- gram. For each bread-and-butter sandwich can't learn." the students received, the families were Lois Kilby-Chesley, president of the charged the full cost of a school meal. Maine Education Association, urged the Senator Shenna Bellows of Manchester committee to support the bill, stating, told the committee that one of her constit- "When we expect children to grow into uents related that one high school princi- civic-minded, empathetic, responsible pal read off the list of names of students adults, we need to remember that children with outstanding lunch debts at a senior model what they see. The time is now to class assembly and warned them that they prohibit food shaming, food denial and would not be able to graduate if their debts the use of food as discipline against our were not paid. children." Senator Joyce Maker of Calais, who However, Walter Beesley of the De- sponsored the bill at the request of the partment of Education raised some con- Maine Education Association, states, cerus about the bill, including how school "Studies show that missing meals and ex- districts can encourage parents to pay their periencing hunger can have a negative ef- food service account bills. He noted that fect on academic performance and student . some districts have unpaid accounts in the behavior. No child should ever have the thousands of dollars. threat of food denial held over his or her Eileen King, executive director of the head or be given a substitute meal because Maine School Superintendents Associa- the family owes money or has no money tion, said the issue does not involve stu- for the meal. Hopefully, this legislation dents who are eligible for free or reduced will help ensure that the nutritional needs price lunch, as "procedures are being in- ofall Maine students are being met." stituted to make it nearly impossible for Susan Mackey Andrews of Solutions students to tell who is paying full price Consulting Group of Dover-Foxcroft, who and who is subsidized." The issue con- specializes in early childhood health and cerns parents who can afford to pay but education services, noted that nearly one are ignoring overdue lunch bills. in three children experience child food in- The committee was scheduled to hold a security, with Maine having gone from work session to consider the bill on Janu- 19th to 16th nationally in terms of child ary 25. food insecurity in one year. 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