Union 76 gets grant to increase distance learning opportunities



DEER ISLE — School Union 76 has won a grant to increase distance learning opportunities.

Maine Rural Development announced last week that School Union 76, including the Isle au Haut School, has been selected to receive a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant in the amount of $441,189. The funding comes through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The funds will help create a distance learning network linking two hubs in Belfast with 30 other hub/end-user sites in Waldo, Sagadahoc, Hancock, Knox, Cumberland and Washington counties and the Passamaquoddy Indian Tribe.

The project will include videoconferencing equipment that will allow for expanded opportunities for real-time, interactive education. The project will help students strive for higher academic achievement, complete postsecondary educations, and it will enhance professional development opportunities for teaching.

Union 76 Superintendent Christian Elkington said this distance learning grant will support all Union 76 schools.

Union 76 includes Brooklin, Sedgwick and Deer Isle-Stonington schools in addition to Isle au Haut.

CSD 13, which is Deer Isle-Stonington’s school district, will be the fiscal agent overseeing the grant.

“The Union 76 philosophy of education is to do all we can for our students,” Elkington said. “This distance learning program aligns with this philosophy, helping our communities as a whole to better educate students in hard-to-reach areas.

“As the reduced population in our area, high transportation costs, inability to find suitable substitutes and reduced number of qualified staff applying for positions we need to look to offer learning options for young and old that are available in more densely populated areas.”

According to Elkington, implementation in Union 76 will be with:

    • “A focused understanding and commitment of all school leaders around this improvement to our programming.”
    • “Understanding of teaching staff of our size and budget limitations.”
    • “Our teaching staff’s commitment to offer more learning opportunities for students, while increasing their own opportunities for professional development.”
    • “Improved parent/guardian understanding that our location demands greater use of technology to increase learning flexibility for our students.”
Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.