The Sanford School Committee met January 30, 2023. Chair Paula Cote was absent, all other members were present. Minutes of January 9 and January 12 meetings were approved.
Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson said this meeting had been rescheduled twice due to weather. The School Committee had an executive session and a budget workshop prior to the meeting, so the agenda was being kept as brief as possible.
There were no public comments.
Mr. Nelson thanked the maintenance and custodial staff and contractors, as well as the City’s Public Works crew for their efforts with the snow removal. He said there have been challenges with transportation as they are down four drivers. He called that unacceptable, and said the School Department is working closely with Ledgemere to address the issue. Two drivers are expected to be back to work shortly, and two other drivers have been brought up from Connecticut to help out. He said they are looking at a longer term plan to solve the problem. He went through the latest issue of the Sanford Spotlight newsletter which is available here: https://www.sanford.org/o/sanford-school-department/page/sanford-spotlight-newsletter.
Student Representatives: Emma Adawadkar thanked the members of Project Graduation for their efforts during finals week, to raise funds and put together the survival kits for students. Many students commented they were a nice surprise and truly appreciated. Aidan Gendron reported on the week’s sporting events. He said the students were a bit stressed with finals being moved for the snow day, but that the extra study time was helpful.
English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL): Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere gave an update on the program, which is growing rapidly due to an increase in the diversity of our community. Under federal civil rights laws, schools are mandated to identify and provide services to students who need them. In October 2020, the program had 25 students. A year later there were 39 students receiving ESOL services, in October 2022 that number was up to 57, and there are now 61 students enrolled. The number of teachers required has also increased from one to three in that same time frame. Languages spoken by these students include Spanish, Khmer, Arabic, Patois, Vietnamese, Thai, Creole, Portuguese, Gujarati and Chinese. Students receive services until they are proficient in English. Mr. Bussiere said for a student new to the country, that is typically seven years. He said the ESOL teachers also play an outreach role communicating with and assisting families to connect with resources they may need in the community. He expects the number of ESOL students to continue to increase. Grant funds are available that can help pay the costs of these programs. For the current school year, the Department received a Multilingual Learner Grant from the Department of Education in the amount of $74,604.37 which paid most of the cost of adding the third teacher.
Sanford Community Adult Education: Jayne Perkins, Director of SCAE gave an update on the program. She said the move to Willard has given them so much more space, and the custodians do a great job keeping the 100-year-old building looking brand new. She said SCAE now has four full-time and ten part-time staff. Lisa Blanchette recently retired after 40 years with the District. The HiSET, which is the high school credential formerly known as the GED, has been awarded to 13 students, with 20 more in progress. A graduation ceremony is planned for June 14. Students can also get their high school credential through taking academic courses including English Language Arts, Fine Arts, Science and Social Studies. A Chemistry class is in development. There is also a credit recovery program for high school students in the evenings. She said just like in the other schools, the number of English language learners is increasing. SCAE currently has 22 students in the program, which is called Multi Language Learners, and is expecting 22 more, and a second teacher has been added. Toddler Time is a free program for parents and their little ones on Friday mornings. SCAE offers 104 enrichment programs. Pottery is especially popular. They are planning to have a welding class in the summer in partnership with York County Community College. SCAE has many other community services including the library, where people can take books out and keep them forever, fingerprinting, sharing shelves and movie nights. The school provides space for job fairs, TOPS and the York County Senior College. Home school services are in development to serve this segment of our community. She invited the School Committee members to stop by anytime for a tour or just to visit.
Audit Report: Christian Smith of Wipli presented a brief overview of the audit of the last fiscal year’s financial statements. Mr. Nelson noted that the School Committee had a workshop with Mr. Smith to go into more detail. Mr. Smith said it was a clean audit, meaning the financial statements were complete and accurate. There were no findings or recommendations that would involve financial reporting. There were no changes in accounting policies, no difficulties in performing the audit, no disagreements with management, and no audit adjustments. The ESSER funds and Title 1 funds were also audited, with no findings on either. “The Finance Department does a very good job and makes our audit go as smoothly as possible,” he said. Wipfli recommended two changes with regard to best practices. One was to change computer passwords more frequently for security purposes. The other involved billing for the ESSER funds, and Mr. Nelson said it has been addressed. The Committee accepted the audit report.
Financials: Business Manager Cheryl Fournier went over the December 2022 financial reports, which can be viewed here. The Committee accepted them.
Staff Changes: Mr. Nelson announced that five staff members will be retiring at the end of the school year: Holly Hartley, food service director; Alan Helmreich, social studies teacher at SHS; Kim Conway, Title 1 literacy teacher at Carl J. Lamb School; and Jane Sprusansky and Delmont Perkins of the custodial staff. Mr. Nelson said they have all impacted our school community in many ways and will be missed. In other changes, Nate Smith and Anna Lane will be taking on the roles of Varsity Coach and Assistant Coach of Girls Track, Michelle Robinson is a new long-term substitute at Margaret Chase Smith School, and Patricia Hussey is the new Special Ed grade level leader at MCS. Other spring coaching appointments will be announced soon.
Policies and Procedures: Mr. Bussiere presented the proposed change to the policy on graduation requirements. It is being proposed to increase the graduation requirement for math, social studies/history and science from 3 credits to 4, and add a requirement that each senior be enrolled in senior English as well as civics. The total number of credits required to graduate will increase from 25 to 27. The requirement for computer proficiency is being removed from the policy as computer skills are embedded in all classes and are no longer formally assessed. These changes are the result of the switch from a four-block to a five-block schedule starting next year. The policy with proposed changes is here: Attachment_P.pdf (core-docs.s3.amazonaws.com). School Committee member Jen Davie pointed out for members of the public watching that the increase in the number of blocks does not mean a student has to fill each one with a class, but instead there will be more opportunities for study hall, early release and late arrivals. Curriculum Director Beth Lambert added that coop programs and apprenticeships are other possibilities. If a student has met their other requirements they can explore those options within the school day. The School Committee accepted the first reading. The second reading and vote will come at the second meeting in February. The Committee also approved the deletion of a policy on communicable diseases which has already been replaced by a new policy.
Calendar: Mr. Nelson went over the calendar of upcoming meetings and workshops. The School Committee will have regular meetings on February 6 and 27; and budget workshops on February 6, 13 and 27.
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