LEWISTON — At the School Committee meeting Monday, school officials discussed the plan to add a remediation period to the start of the school day twice a week to provide students a designated time to make up work.

The 38-minute period dubbed Academic Focus Time will give students an opportunity to meet with teachers to make-up tests, redo assignments, receive tutoring or even complete advanced work outside the standard curriculum Tuesday and Thursday mornings, said Lewiston High School Principal Jonathan Radtke.

AFT will replace Ice Week and Mud Week, two week-long remediation programs for students who need to make-up credits. While School Committee members had mixed feelings about AFT, most expressed approval of eliminating the two credit-recovery programs.

Conversations about the new period began back in October when both teachers and students expressed dissatisfaction with the current credit recovery programs, Radtke said. Administrators and department heads came up with the idea of creating a designated period for students and teachers to be able to meet during the school day.

Currently, students and teachers conduct similar meetings before and after school, he said, noting it can be difficult for students without independent transportation.

At least 75 students entering their fourth year at the high school are currently not on track for graduation, Radtke said. As of October last year, 373 students were in the Class of 2024, according to data from the Maine Department of Education.


AFT wouldn’t necessarily help these students catch-up, Radtke said, rather the program is intended to reduce the number of students who fall so far behind.

Juniors and seniors in good academic standing with no work to make up may skip AFT and arrive at school before first period at 8:25 a.m., he added. Freshmen and sophomores in a similar situation will have study hall.

Programs like AFT are common among high schools in southern and central Maine, Radtke said.

Adding AFT into the school schedule does not require a vote from the School Committee. Radtke said school administrators are planning to start the school year with the new program.

Some School Committee members and one teacher expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the plan.

Ward 7 Representative Paul Beauparlant, a retired classroom teacher with more than forty years of experience in Auburn, said he had serious concerns about the program.


“I’m worried that the students we’re targeting won’t take advantage of it,” he said, later adding, “I just see many students blowing this off.”

Beauparlant also expressed concern that moving from four lunch periods to three lunch periods will lead to more disciplinary problems and longer lunch lines.

Radtke said the consolidation would lead to 50-75 students more per lunch period than there were last year. The multipurpose room adjacent to the lunch room would be available for use as a quiet lunch room roughly 75% of the time, he added.

Freshman math teacher Jude Levasseur spoke of his opposition to the program at length. He said that adding midterm and final examinations this past year “did not go smoothly” and said he was opposed to reducing the amount of instructional time further.

By his calculations, adding midterm and final examinations took away 16 class days due to time needed to review and prepare. He worries that AFT will further reduce the amount of class time.

Radtke said the addition of AFT would reduce class periods by about seven minutes. They will now run for 70 minutes.


Roughly half of the 135 teachers at Lewiston High School responded to a survey regarding the program proposal. Of the 71 respondents, 54 said they were either neutral or in favor of the proposal.

Levasseur said many teachers did not respond because they felt the program was already a done deal.

Lewiston Education Association President Jaye Rich said her main concern is creating more work for educators. She also believes many students will ignore the opportunity.

“I would urge caution on this,” she said, asking school officials to carefully consider the details of the initiative.

Ward 2 representative Janet Beaudoin and Ward 6 representative Meghan Hird expressed support for the program.

“We need to put responsibility back on the students,” Hird said, noting there is no excuse for students missing such an opportunity to make-up work.

AFT will be in addition to an existing advisory period which will now run Monday and Wednesday at the same time. This advisory period has previously been used for planned activities among student groups to build social emotional learning and teamwork skills.

The same 38-minute block on Friday will be open for students in extracurricular groups, like Mock Trial, to meet or offer additional academic support time, Radtke said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.