The Sanford School Committee met February 6, 2023. Jen Davie was absent, all other members were present.
Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson led off the meeting on a somber note. He said one of the Pre-K students at Sanford Regional Technical had died unexpectedly. The administration was in communication with families of the other students there, and the students in the Early Childhood program and their families. The Center for Grieving Children was onsite that afternoon to provide support and guidance on how the news could be communicated appropriately to the child’s classmates. He asked for a moment of silence and for everyone to keep the family in their thoughts and prayers.
The meetings of the January 30 meetings were approved. There were no public comments.
SPE Student Leaders: Principal Susan Inman and Vice Principal Kristin Daly brought several student leaders from Sanford Pride Elementary School up to the podium where they took turns speaking about some of the things they do, and thanked the School Board members for their work and presented them with a plaque. Student Leaders help run the all-school meetings, help younger students during recess and lunch, organize Spirit Days and help with student surveys. The Committee members and Mr. Nelson were very appreciative and told them to keep up the good work.
Student Representatives: John Paul Alexandre spoke about the POW/MIA Chair that was installed at Sanford High School and dedicated to Leon Tanguay, who passed away recently. He promoted the upcoming Ice Fishing Derby on Number One Pond and said the countdown has begun for the SHS Abroad trip to Italy. Aidan Gendron reported on all the upcoming sporting events. He said a panel of three people came to the school last week to talk about career opportunities in the arts. Emma Adawadkar announced that it is School Counselor Appreciation week and thanked the counselors for their hard work, guidance and friendship. She added that signup for spring sports has begun.
Field Trips: Mr. Nelson reported that the 4th graders from SPE got a grant for activities from the Berlin City Auto Group, and traveled to South Portland on January 25 for the giant check presentation.
Sanford Spotlight: Mr. Nelson went through the latest issue of the Sanford Spotlight newsletter, which can be viewed here: https://www.sanford.org/o/sanford-school-department/page/sanford-spotlight-newsletter.
Scheduling Update: Mr. Nelson said scheduling cards have been sent out for students to sign up for next year’s classes, to current SHS students as well as students from Sanford Middle School and Acton.
Cold Snap: Mr. Nelson thanked Jason Dudley, Interim Director of Facility and Maintenance, for the work done by his crew and the custodial staff to monitor the buildings during the below-zero weather. They were able to catch a few potential issues which kept them from turning into major issues, he said.
SRTC: Sanford Regional Technical Center Director Kathy Sargent brought rack cards for the Committee to see how SRTC is marketed to prospective students. The cards highlight the programs, how to apply, the website address and reasons to choose SRTC. She talked about the Career Exploratory program that 10th graders can take to give them exposure to programs in the school’s STEM wing, including construction, welding, machining and electrical. February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) month nationally, and Ms. Sargent said the Maine economy is experiencing a skills gap. 51% of jobs require skills training, defined as more than a high school diploma but less than a college degree, but only 47% of Maine workers have this training. CTE programs can fill this gap. She touted the graduation rate for CTE students, which is higher than the average for all students. Some of the things that make SRTC unique are: the regional partnership with eight sending schools, smaller class sizes, longer class times and applied learning with hands-on experience. SRTC students can earn college credits and professional certifications while attending high school. There will be an Open House on February 15 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. WSSR-TV and students in the Video Production program have produced a video introduction to SRTC which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLyl-XMrDiw.
Mr. Nelson added that the Rotary Club recognized the SRTC Students of the Quarter recently. Capt. Harold Smith of the Firefighting Program spoke about a student who was having difficulty in school until he enrolled in the program, and is on now track to graduate as one of the best students the Firefighting Program has produced.
Ms. Sargent also announced that the SRTC Café is now open to the public for breakfast and lunch on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Café has been closed for a few years due to the pandemic. View the menu and make reservations at https://tableagent.com/portland-maine/srtc-cafe/.
Pre-Kindergarten: Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere reported on the visit to Pre-K classrooms by Maine Department of Education consultants. The visits went well and reports were sent to the administration as well as to individual teachers. Some of the areas that were suggested for improvement are in behavioral management, family engagement, integrating music and art, and connecting to the wider community. He said overall it was a positive report and he gave kudos to all the Pre-K staff for their hard work.
Registration: Mr. Bussiere said registration for next year’s Pre-K and Kindergarten classes will open on Monday, February 13. Current students do not need to re-register. Any parent with a child who will be five years old before October 15 should call the closest elementary school to get information.
Transportation: Mr. Bussiere said he met with the local and regional managers from Ledgemere. Ledgemere is not fulfilling the current contract because of a shortage of drivers, but steps have been taken to fill the gaps and recruit new people. They are offering a $3K sign-on bonus for drivers with a CDL, or a $1,500 bonus for trainees. The company has moved Sanford up to the top of its priority list for new hires. Mr. Bussiere said he is confident about the short-term plans but still has long-term concerns.
Dyslexia Screener: Curriculum Director Beth Lambert gave a presentation on the new process for screening students for dyslexia. A committee was created over last summer to research options and they chose Early Bird, a game-based testing software which will be implemented this month with K and Grade 1 students. She said this particular software is the one recommended by the Maine Department of Education.
Staff Changes: Mr. Nelson went through the list of staff changes. Jessica Dilboy is a new Ed Tech 1 in the Special Education Department at Carl J. Lamb School. Michael “Tipper” Thornton, who was formerly the School Resource Officer at the Jr. High, is retiring from the Sanford Police Department and will be coming on board at SRTC as a Law Enforcement instructor.
Calendar: The next School Committee meetings will be held February 27, March 6 and March 20. Budget workshops are scheduled for February 13 and 27. The Committee will vote on next year’s school budget February 27, then it will go to the City Council for further review.