BAKER — The Baker School Board on Tuesday approved a contract to partner with Mass Insight Education to develop plans for improving the district’s three lowest performing schools: Baker Middle School, Baker High and Bakerfield Elementary.
Due to the impact of the 2016 flooding on the city, Baker schools were exempt from state report cards during 2016-17; however, Bakerfield and Baker Middle both received F grades for 2015-16 and 2014-15.
As a result, the district is required to submit plans to the state by March for redesigning the schools, Superintendent Herman Brister said.
Baker High School received a D grade for 2015-16 and a C for 2014-15, so the district opted to develop an improvement plan for it as well.
The contract with the Boston-based MIE will go into effect retroactively to December and extend until June 30.
The school district will pay MIE up to $73,500, which officials hope will come from federal grants.
MIE is expected to help school officials apply for state funding for school redesign, Angela Domingue, assistant superintendent for innovation and student achievement, told the board.
The plan will be developed such that, even if the district does not receive the state grant, the plan could still be implemented, Brister said.
“I expect to receive some money from the state, but not everything we ask for because it is a competitive grant,” he said.
MIE has already visited Baker schools and provided recommendations as well as working with the district on preliminary improvement plans, Domingue said.
The company will hold focus groups with students, teachers and staff to identify the root causes of the schools’ underperformance and work closely with district officials as a planning partner, she said.
Once a plan is developed, MIE will help the district stay on track with implementation.
In other business, the school board unanimously voted to buy flood insurance for all the district’s buildings.
“I don’t think it was a bad decision not to buy flood insurance in the past since the buildings were not in a flood plain,” Brister said. “But now flood maps are being redrawn.”
Both Baker High and Baker Heights Elementary were damaged in the 2016 flooding and students are not expected to be able to return to the high school until 2019.
The insurance will cost $63,000 per year and will go into effect immediately, Brister said.
The School Board also unanimously voted to appoint Dana Carpenter as board president and Elaine Davis as vice president.