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Innovative school project gets federal funding

7:06 PM, Jan 18, 2013   |    comments
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ROCKLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The effort to create a combined regional high school, tech school and college campus in the Rockland area has gotten a big boost from the federal government.

The Many Flags, One Community project has been in the works for almost seven years. Planners have built lots of local support for the project, and are even first on the list of innovative school projects waiting for funding from the state. Now the project has been given a $348-thousand planning grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Leaders of the Many Flags effort say it will help continue work on the project and will also provide added credibility for the project with both government and potential private donors. They say Many Flags will then be allowed to apply for a much larger USDOE Implementation Grant, once the planning portion is completed.

The grant work will be done I n partnership with the Penquis organization, which works on a variety of social service needs for area residents. Alan Hinsey, Executive director of the Many Flags foundation, says the grant is aimed at developing plans to address the various social services needs of students and their families, as a way to overcome obstacles to learning. Hinsey says it will also help expand the ongoing work to develop the full "educational model" for the new school.

Many Flags is being planned to create a more unified curriculum between traditional high school and tech school programs, and also link those with community college and University programs. They hope this will produce better education and training for high school students, and help meet the needs of local businesses. Many business leaders in the Knox county area say it's difficult to find training for their workers who need new skills.

Business leaders also say the region needs a better skilled workforce and better trained and educated students in order to provide future job opportunities.

Planners say they're now moving ahead to get some of the new educational programs started, even without a new school. They hope to work with the existing high schools and the regional tech school to more closely connect the teaching of traditional subjects with the hands-on work of the tech classes. They also are developing stronger ties to the business community, particularly through the tech school.

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