School Committee 1/3 Meeting Summary

L to R: Student Representatives Grace Davie and John Paul Alexandre, Committee member Jen Davie, Committee Chair Paula Cote, Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson, Committee members Jonathan Mapes and John Roux, Vice Chair Amy Sevigny

The Sanford School Committee met January 3, 2022, with a late start due to a disciplinary hearing and a workshop on the audit.

Organization

Jonathan Mapes nominated Paula Cote as Chair. John Roux seconded. There were no other nominations, and the vote was unanimous.

At this point, Mr. Nelson turned the meeting over to Ms. Cote. She called for nominations for the position of Vice Chair. Mr. Roux nominated Amy Sevigny, and Mr. Mapes seconded. There were no other nominations, and the vote was unanimous.

She then went over the standing committee assignments, which are as follows:

  • Adult Education – Jonathan Mapes
  • Curriculum – Paula Cote and Amy Sevigny
  • Dropout Prevention – Jen Davie
  • Personnel – John Roux and Amy Sevigny
  • SRTC – Jen Davie and Amy Sevigny
  • Facilities, Grounds, Safety and CIP – John Roux and Jonathan Mapes
  • Policies – Paula Cote
  • Building Committee – Jonathan Mapes
  • Performing Arts – Paula Cote
  • Wellness – Amy Sevigny
  • Legacy Foundation – Amy Sevigny
  • WSSR – Jen Davie and Paula Cote
  • Scheduling Advisory – Jen Davie and Paula Cote

Audit

Christian Smith, CPA and Wipfli, LLP from South Portland provided a brief overview of the audit of the School District’s financial statements for the 2020/21 fiscal year. He said the result of the audit was a clean opinion, meaning there were no findings, significant deficiencies or material weaknesses, no issues with accounting policies, no disagreements with management and no difficulty in performing the audit. He said everything went as expected, and the results were also as expected.

One highlight he mentioned was the increase in the general fund balance from $974,000 to $3.681 million over the previous year. However, he said that was consistent with other similar-sized school districts, and was due to expenditures being less than budgeted for the year due to Covid. The state allows schools to carry over up to 5% of the unassigned fund balance, and Sanford is under the threshold at 4.7%. He mentioned that three other school districts in Maine are at 10% and one is at 18%. He also said there is good collaboration between the City and the School Department.

Mr. Mapes and Ms. Cote explained for the public that the increase in the fund balance was due to schools not being open full-time during the previous school year. The Committee voted to accept the audit report.

Communications

There were no public comments.

Mr. Nelson said he received a number of thank you cards from staff in response to the employee retention initiative, as well as an official thank you from the Sanford Federation of Teachers, which is the union that oversees teachers, ed techs, administrative assistants and food service employees. On behalf of the School Committee, he said those were very much appreciated.

Committee Reports

Construction: Mr. Nelson reported that the subcontractor will be on site this week at Sanford High School/SRTC to work on relocating the sensors that may be causing the tripping issue with the HVAC system. He said the forecasted cold weather will be helpful. The final items at Sanford Middle School have been completed and that project will be closed out. Don Nichols, Director of Facilities, will be touring Sanford Pride Elementary School this week and that construction project will possibly be closed out as well.

Performing Arts: Ms. Cote reported that about 600 people attended the Classic Rock New Year’s Eve show at the Sanford Performing Arts Center. The big event planned for this month is the Maine Piano Festival on January 21-23, which includes the Hanna Powell Memorial Piano Competition with four cash prizes of $1,000 to $2,000 each. Turning 15 on The Road to Freedom, a special live performance for SHS students, had to be canceled due to Covid infetions among the cast.

Superintendent’s Report

Rise Award: Mr. Nelson congratulated Melinda Williams, an ed tech at SHS who was the District’s nominee for this year’s RISE (Recognizing Inspirational School Employees) Award. She has been chosen by the Maine Department of Education as one of 12 finalists from 80 nominees across the state. He expects a press release from the state to be forthcoming.

Student Representatives: John Paul Alexandre said he was happy to hear about new changes to the District’s quarantine policies, which will help get students back into the buildings as much as possible. Grace Davie reported that the SHS Theater group starts rehearsals this week for the spring show, and that finals are coming up in a couple of weeks. She reminded everyone to wear masks and sanitize to stay safe.

Safe Return to Schools: see this story.

New Business

Financial report: Business Manager Cheryl Fournier reviewed the financial statements for November. Her report was approved.

Staff Changes: Mr. Nelson offered his good wishes to Nicole Tibbetts, head custodian at Margaret Chase Smith School, and Kimberlee Watson, English teacher at SHS, who are resigning this month. The School Committee accepted his nomination of Lindsay Tibbetts, a former longtime phys ed and health teacher for the district, who is returning to accept a full-time position as K-4 phys ed teacher at MCS, and welcomed her back.

Policies and Procedures: Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere detailed updates to two Department policies, and the addition of a new policy, to bring them in line with state laws on truancy and compulsory education. The major changes are the lowering of the compulsory education age to 6, and 5 for all children enrolled in school. According to a state law enacted this past fall, truancy by a child who is at least 5 but under 6, who is voluntarily enrolled in school, must be reported to DHHS as a case of neglect. The policy on home schooling has also been updated to make it compliant with current state laws. The Committee accepted the first readings of the policies.

The full meeting video may be viewed here.