SCARBOROUGH — The Board of Education of Scarborough announced that the deadline to apply for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee has been extended to Jan. 20.

Formation of this new committee is the first step in an agreement the board has made with Mid Atlantic Equity Consortium, a nonprofit organization, to evaluate and improve equity, diversity and inclusion, the board said.

The MAEC will assist the committee in the work done, Leanne Kazilionis, board vice chair and communication committee chair, said. Surveys regarding inclusivity will be going out to staff, students and residents, and that data will help guide what needs improvement or change.

The committee’s charge will be “responsibility for reviewing the data collected from climate surveys and school equity audits, making recommendations to the board regarding the appropriate next steps for our district, and monitoring action plan progress over time,” the board said.

Rather than telling the board what to do, the MAEC will work to make sure the committee understands the survey results, she said.

“It’s really going to be based on how the information comes back, and they’re going to ask us in understanding what the data means, how we move forward with it, and then it’s really going to be the committee that determines the next steps,” Kazilionis said. “It will be very specific to what Scarborough needs to do, which is really the beauty of this.”

The board is asking that people interested in being a part of the new committee complete a Google Form, tinyurl.com/yxcc9lpl, in order to be considered. Applicants should expect to commit to one year of service.

The deadline was extended to the 20th in order to make sure people had adequate opportunity to join, Kazilionis said. On Jan. 21, the board will review applicants in a closed discussion and begin reaching out to accepted committee members as soon as Jan. 22.

“We’re really looking for folks who want to advocate and make sure they’re advocating for all aspects of inclusivity, socio-economic, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, origin or disability statuses,” she said. “So we really want to make sure we’re looking at how we’re inclusive in everything we do.”

The agreement with MAEC is in combination to work that the district’s staff is doing with the Cultural Competency Institute, a program hosted by the Maine School Management Association, Kazilionis said.

“It’s a year-long program that is helping us understand how we incorporate all aspects of inclusivity and diversity into everything we do,” she said. “So the board is also working through this initiative and just making sure that as a whole, the work we do, is in conjunction with what our staff is doing.”

As for what sort of work needs to be done, Kazilionis said that is not yet determined.

“This committee is really going to be one that helps to set the direction,” she said. “They’ll look at the data, and they’ll be making recommendations to the board on what the priority order is, based on information that comes back from the survey. It’s really kind of exciting.”

MAEC is primarily funded by the Department of Education, the board of education said. The agreement with MAEC comes at no cost to the district, but depending on work that needs to be done, there may be additional costs.

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