KENNEBUNK — The RSU 21 School Board voted to approve language in a letter to parents about the new “Smarter Balanced” Maine Educational Assessment testing on Monday. The letter states that “if you have any questions about the test or any concerns about your child’s participation in the test please contact your child’s principal or [Assistant Superintendent Kathryn Hawes].”

The issue at hand, according to School Board Chairperson Maureen King, is that the law is written such that administrators may not advertise that students can opt out, and the school board has received legal advice to that effect.

If they like, parents may choose to have their child opt out of the test ”“ as they may with anything in the curriculum ”“ but if more than 5 percent of a given school does not take the test, data required for certain federal funds may be considered incomplete and funding withdrawn.

Furthermore, these funds are distributed based on the need calculated by the test, meaning the most underachieving programs would receive a cut in funding. At the April 27 school board meeting, King said these funds made up roughly $400,000 of the RSU 21 operating budget.

However, some parents were still displeased with the school board’s decision, saying the test was prohibitively long and gave their children anxiety.

“This is four weeks I’ve been here trying to plead this case,” resident Lisa Kendrick said. “It just feels like there was an opportunity to explain this a little more.”

Resident Karleen Frost said that “the school administration led me to believe I had no choice.”

School Board member Robert Domine said that he sympathized with the parents who came to speak out against the proposed language; however, he said the proposed language was simply the best of the available solutions.

“[When] somebody does not feel like they got what they wanted ”¦ that’s unfortunate. I on a personal level have compassion, but no single governing body can govern to the standard of making every single person happy,” Domine said.

School Board member Jeffrey Cole cast the sole vote opposing the approval of the language.

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