Forum on the Future of Education in the Valley
Last week, I participated in two community forums on the future of education in the Androscoggin Valley. The conversations were facilitated by New Hampshire Listens and planned by the Imagining the Future of Education Steering Committee, a group of educators, town representatives, school board members and parents which has been meeting for the past year to consider ways to expand educational opportunities for youth in the Valley. The community forums took place at the Berlin and Gorham High Schools and drew a range of people from across the region including Mayor Paul Grenier and current students. In general, the conversations were marked by an optimistic outlook. Participants seemed to share a common sense of purpose and desire to preserve and strengthen local schools while remaining fiscally responsible. Participants also voiced pride in the strength of local education and an appreciation of the quality of life offered by our tight knit communities and world class natural resources. Concerns were also raised about the state funding structure for public education and the need for a coordinated effort to make school funding a core priority for the next legislative session. New Hampshire Listens will compile these and other insights shared at the conversations in a forthcoming report. This report will include recommendations for the Imagining the Future of Education Steering Committee which will be used to focus and augment plans to expand academic and extracurricular opportunities available to students in the Androscoggin Valley. These plans include efforts underway to open select classes at both schools to all high school students in the Valley. Moving forward, this work will require a sustained effort and the continued support and interest from local community members. Thank you to those who participated in these community conversations and engaged in this important civic process. If you were unable to attend and would like to make your voice heard, please feel welcome to contact either the SAU 20 or SAU 3 offices to do so.