2018-06-07 / Community News

Saco foundation established

The Alliance for Science, Technology, Education, Arts and Math (Saco STEAM) announced its mission to publicly advocate for educational resources that raise the educational standards and practices in Saco’s K-8 school system.

Saco STEAM is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation created by parents of elementary students and retired Saco residents who see an opportunity to build and strengthen connections between the primary school educational community and the rest of Saco. The new foundation is led by a volunteer board of four: Michael Burman, Tracey Collins, Tony Palleschi and Stephen Shiman.

“As local professionals, parents and involved citizens who have been individually advocating and supporting our children’s education in Saco for a long time, we have come to recognize the need for strong public support for K-8 education. We believe that education foundations are a valuable strategic partner in almost every other public education program in southern Maine. Launching Saco STEAM will help facilitate greater awareness and support impactful education projects that directly improve education standards and practices,” Burman said in a press release.

Saco spends less per pupil than most other school districts in York and Cumberland counties (15 out of 18). While Saco’s low cost per pupil expenditures might be seen as more efficient, they are accompanied by lower academic performance. Currently, Saco Primary Schools rank at, or slightly below, the state average in ELA, math and science.

While new initiatives in recent years have seen Saco’s K-8 performance improving, Saco lacks the strong educational foundation seen in neighboring communities. These foundations not only provide financial support, but also serve as a bridge to the community, which helps schools gain access to professionals, volunteers and advocates.

“We have great teachers and staff here in Saco, but that doesn’t mean they have everything they need to prepare all of our children for the future. We have an obligation to help our educators find the resources they need, whether it has to do with advocacy for strategic plans, networking with members of our community, or finding money to support beneficial programs,” Palleschi said.

Saco STEAM seeks partnerships with local businesses, institutions of higher learning and any individual member of the community that can help local K-8 teachers gain the resources they need to engage children in learning and prepare them for the future. With education cuts at federal, state and local levels, Saco STEAM – founded in January 2018 – is committed to identifying educational needs and finding creative solutions to support our schools.

In addition to advocacy and community building, a third major priority of the foundation is to support small to mid-sized classroom projects that enhance student experiences and learning in the STEAM fields.

Saco STEAM seeks donors and community partnerships to fund small, teacher-led grants, with a preference toward projects that involve or impact a large number of students, focus on STEAM subject areas, and are not traditionally funded by the school’s operating budget.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ sacosteam or www.SacoSTEAM.org.

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