Schools will get new results after faulty test assessment

Biddeford schools must wait another week to find out its real high school assessment scores, after a computer error led to unusually low test scores, school officials said.

Measured Progress, the testing company, will re-run the Maine High School Assessment results for Biddeford High School, using 107 more tests, which school officials said were incorrectly coded as “home-schooled.”

Jeff Porter, the district’s superintendent, blamed the error on a technical mishap.

“This error occurred as a result of undiscovered leftover data from our old student data system that became corrupted within our new data system,” Porter said. Measure Progress will take about one week to recalculate the numbers with the additional 107 tests, he said.

Earlier this month, Biddeford school officials noticed their test scores were far lower than last year’s. The scores, which are based on reading, writing, math and science, showed 11th-grade students’ proficiency rates were much lower than the state average.

The school declined to give specific numbers, and the Maine Department of Education hasn’t yet posted the results from each district. It will likely do so in the next two weeks, said David Connerty-Marin, the department’s director of communications.

School officials said the missing 107 students were the reason for the large drop-off. The district plans to share the recalculated scores with the school board and public at its Sept. 13 school board meeting.


Cause is unknown for fire at students’ boarding house

The cause of a Monday night fire at a seasonal boarding house for foreign exchange students remains under investigation by the State Fire Marshall’s Office.

Capt. Gill Utgard said the fire at 1384 Post Road caused moderate fire damage to the third floor and smoke damage to the rest of the three-story building.

Fifteen students lived in the building, but no injuries were reported, Utgard said.

Firefighters from the neighboring towns of Ogunquit, North Berwick, Sanford and Kennebunk assisted.


Irene forces USS John Hall to miss Windjammer event

The USS John Hall will not join the fleet during this year’s Camden Windjammer Festival, according the Dan Bookham, executive director of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Navy fast frigate built in Bath was scheduled to be in Camden for the three-day event, which celebrates Camden’s windjamming history. The ship had to move out to sea in order to avoid Hurricane Irene and will not be able to return in time for the festival.

Organizers note there’s still plenty to see and do. For more information, go to


Survey: Worry about health care coverage on the rise

A new public opinion survey shows increasing worries among Mainers about the cost and availability of health care coverage.

Market Decisions of Portland says the survey was conducted July 13-30. Twenty-six percent of those responding reported they or someone in their family had problems paying for medical bills during the past 12 months. That’s up from 22 percent a year earlier.

Twenty-one percent said they were concerned about losing health insurance in the next 12 months, up from 18 percent last year. While 12 percent said they did not get needed medical care from a doctor, or surgery, the figure was down from 22 percent last year.

Market Decisions surveyed 400 residents age 18 and older. The survey has a margin of error of 5 percentage points.


Public hearings seek input on planned shrimp rules

Fishery regulators have scheduled hearings to gather public comment on proposed new shrimp fishing rules for the Gulf of Maine.

The plan proposed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission includes options for the coming season such as quotas and restrictions on where and when shrimp can be caught. It also proposes a rule that in time, possibly as soon as 2013, could bar or restrict fishermen who don’t have a history of fishing for shrimp.

The first hearings will be Sept. 13 in Portland and Gloucester, Mass. Others will take place in Rockland and Ellsworth and in Portsmouth, N.H.

Shrimp is a small but important fishery for hundreds of New England fishermen, with boats from Maine typically catching about 90 percent of the harvest.


Folk festival cancellation leads to benefit concert

Several American Folk Festival musicians whose flights were canceled because of Tropical Storm Irene scheduled a benefit concert while awaiting new flights out of Bangor.

The a capella gospel group the Brotherhood Singers and bluegrass band Rich in Tradition were to perform Monday evening at Husson University. Proceeds will benefit the festival.

The American Folk Festival’s final day was canceled Sunday as Irene moved through the state.

The festival’s executive director, Heather McCarthy, told the Bangor Daily News that performers who flew into Bangor ended up with an extended stay as flights were canceled up and down the East Coast. She says the festival is “taking good care” of performers who are waiting to catch a flight later in the week.


Man, 21, dies in hospital after weekend car accident

A Pittsfield man involved in a crash in Palmyra over the weekend has died.

State police said a car driven by Dennis Moody, 21, left the road and struck stand of trees at about 3:50 a.m. Saturday. Moody suffered serious head and leg injuries.

An Eastern Maine Medical Center spokeswoman told the Bangor Daily News Sunday that Moody had died.

Moody’s passenger, Elizabeth Cookson, 20, suffered minor injuries and was treated and released from Sebasticook Valley Hospital.

Police say open alcohol containers were found in the vehicle and troopers are investigating whether alcohol was a factor. It does not appear speed was a factor.

This article was updated at 10:55 a.m., Aug. 29, 2011, to correct the address of the Wells boarding house that caught on fire. The building is at 1384 Post Road.