School Committee 10/3 Meeting Notes

SHS Junior Class President Audrey Cote, flanked by the other class officers, addresses the School Committee.

The Sanford School Committee met October 3, 2022. Jonathan Mapes was absent, all other members were present.

The minutes of September 19 and 26 were approved.

There were no public comments.

Communications: Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson reported that the review of the Nutrition Department’s procurement procedures by the Maine Department of Education was overall very positive. Two policies need to be updated by the end of 2022.

Prom 2023: Sanford High School junior class officers Audrey Cote (President), Ailey Mann (Vice President) and Tatum Milley (Secretary) addressed the School Committee to present their proposal that the 2023 Prom be held at Rustic Dreams in Lyman on May 6. The facility has a capacity of 300, which is an increase from the past few years, but may also be expanded with an outdoor tent for additional capacity. They looked at several different venues, but said Rustic Dreams is a beautiful place everyone will enjoy, and is close to home. Tickets will be $50 each which includes light appetizers rather than a full meal, to keep it affordable.

SHS Principal Matt Petermann said plans are in place to offer rides to the venue for those who don’t have transportation. The School’s clothing closet will have prom dresses as well as shirts and ties for students who need them. The School Committee approved the location.

New Student Representatives: Mr. Nelson introduced the new Student Representatives to the School Committee, Emma Adawadkar and Aidan Gendron, who are both juniors.

Committee Reports

Scheduling: Mr. Nelson reported that the SHS/SRTC Scheduling Advisory Committee met last week, and continues to make progress. At the last meeting they did a deep dive into the current schedule, which includes four blocks a day with “skinny block” enrichment periods twice a week. At the next meeting this week they hope to come up with a recommendation that will be discussed with School Committee members at a workshop October 17.

Superintendent’s Report

Student Representative Reports: John Paul Alexandre reported on the Homecoming games. The girls’ soccer team had a narrow loss in overtime to last year’s state championship team. Aidan Gendron said the junior class won Homecoming overall in a tight competition with great art from all classes and good participation. Emma Adawadkar said she unfortunately missed the events due to surgery but heard many positive comments about what a great experience it was and how it brought the school together.

Mr. Nelson said he thinks Sanford is the envy of a lot of other schools in terms of the involvement and school spirit. The class competition was done in a cooperative way, and the artwork and pep rally were outstanding. 660 students attended the Homecoming Dance on Saturday night. School Committee member Amy Sevigny added that Sanford Middle School and the elementary schools also held spirit week to get the whole school community together.

Field Trips: The SRTC Early Childhood Education programs will be traveling to UMaine Farmington on October 21 for a teacher education open house there.

Enrollment Update: Mr. Nelson presented the official enrollment figures which are taken each year on October 1. He noted that the 2022 graduating class of 260 students has been replaced in the system by this year’s incoming Kindergarten students, who number only 200 students. Despite that loss, enrollment is up overall by 69 students, which includes 45 in the Pre-K expansion. He thanked the community for making the effort to get the economic status form and free and reduced lunch form filled out. Although more people filled out the forms this year, fewer people qualified as economically disadvantaged, which will have an impact on the state subsidy the School District receives.

Water Testing Results: Mr. Nelson reported the results of last spring’s water quality testing. The state mandates testing for lead, which was done at a lab in Auburn. Although lead has not been detected in the School District’s water sources, it can get into the water from pipes and older fixtures in the buildings. Every school had at least one fixture that was over the 4 parts per billion limit, and these were mostly replaced over the summer, with work expected to be completed in a week or two. Samples will then be sent to the lab for retesting. He said the problem was mainly due to faucets, and he thanked the maintenance crew for their work on the issue.

School News: Mr. Nelson showed the premiere issue of Sanford Spotlight, the School Department’s new e-newsletter, which highlighted recent events at each school. It will be distributed twice a month to parents, staff and any interested community members. The premiere issue may be viewed online here.

Director’s Reports

Sanford Performing Arts Center: Director Brett Williams gave a presentation on the schedule of performances for the 2022-23 season. See this story.

Health Clinics: Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere reported that flu vaccine clinics will be held for students and staff the week of October 17. They are free but Northern Light Home Care will collect insurance info from those who are insured. Dental care clinics will also begin in October, these are free for students with MaineCare and other insurances are accepted as well. The info about both clinics is available on the School Department’s website and in the individual school newsletters.

Homeless Students: Mr. Bussiere spoke about the number of homeless students in the district, which has increased from 22 at this time last year, to 40 this year, from 26 families. The School Department is guided by provisions of the federal McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, which aims to minimize educational disruption for students experiencing housing instability. Students have the right to remain in school in their home district, or may enroll in the school in the community where they are staying. Title grants pay for transportation and school supplies as needed. The goals are continuity and stability. “Sometimes we are the only stable part of a student’s life,” he said. Of the 40 students currently experiencing homelessness, three are classified as unaccompanied youth, meaning they are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. Mr. Bussiere said work is being done to identify host families for them.

Inservice Day: Curriculum Director Beth Lambert reviewed the schedule for the October 7 Teacher Inservice Day, which will include morning and afternoon sessions. In the morning, there will be training on Reveal math and Read 180, plus areas of special interest which teachers can select. After lunch, there will be professional development activities to meet each school’s individual goals, plus a wellness seminar for everyone.

New Business

Compensation for After School Duties: The School Committee approved additional compensation for teachers and other staff who stay beyond their contracted time to assist with bus duties. This is retroactive to August 29 and will continue through the of the first semester. Mr. Nelson noted that the extra pay will be covered by federal ESSER funds.

Staff Changes: Mr. Nelson read through the list of staff retirements and resignations, appointments, transfers and nominations. He thanked Sarah Shelley, Title 1 Literacy Teacher at Sanford Pride Elementary, who is retiring at the end of December, for all her contributions to the district. The appointments included coaches for winter sports including basketball, cheerleading, swimming and wrestling. Paula Sheehan-Kopp has joined the BRIDGE program as a new special education teacher.

Policies and Procedures: The second reading of the updates to the policy on Student and Staff Wellness Policy was read and approved.

Calendar: Mr. Nelson proposed that the School Committee hold a non-public workshop to discuss scheduling on October 17 in lieu of a regular meeting. The next regular meeting will be November 7.

Committee member Jen Davie encouraged everyone to come to the varsity football game vs. Massabesic on Thursday, October 6, where Chace Fromwiller will be the Spartans’ Honorary Team Captain.

The full meeting video may be viewed on Town Hall Streams here and on YouTube here.