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School Committee 3/21 Meeting Summary

The Sanford School Committee met March 21, 2022. All members were present.

Public Participation: Sanford High School senior Grace Davie spoke about some issues with the sales of tickets for prom. Due to the venue’s restrictions, only 250 tickets were being offered. She said when tickets went on sale, some students were cutting in line or having to skip lunch or be late to class, for fear they would miss out on getting a ticket. She thanked everyone for their hard work in planning the event and suggested that restrictions on the number of attendees be taken into consideration by future prom committees when selecting a venue.

Committee Reports

Construction: Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson said the issue with tripping of the HVAC system at SHS/SRTC is still being addressed. It is believed that adjusting the dampers will fix the problem, but it won’t be known for sure until next winter. Tours of the schools for the Core Building Committee, which had been postponed due to the pandemic, will be scheduled. Summer projects may include remodeling part of the Sanford Middle School cafeteria into office and storage space, and replacing orange lockers and peach tile.

Sanford Performing Arts Center: School Committee Chair Paula Cote said the Performing Arts Committee has begun talking about next year’s lineup of shows. SPAC Director Brett Williams is looking to schedule a variety of performances from musical theater to classical to comedy and jazz. She said the dance competitions which are held there are an economic driver for the City, and that within the dance community, SPAC is known as a great venue with a great stage. The Hanna Powell Memorial Piano Competition and Portland Piano Trio shows that had to be postponed earlier this year have been rescheduled to May 1.

Superintendent’s Report

Student Representatives: John Paul Alexandre reported that the junior class at SHS had Challenge Day on March 9 and 10, which he called “a great opportunity for people to realize they aren’t alone in their struggles.” Spring sports are starting next week. Grace Davie said the National Honor Society has been holding auditions for their spring variety show. Isabella Farrington added that the show will be held April 7. All three students reported that the end of masking and Covid mitigation measures has been a positive thing for the high school, although Bella requested that a few dividers be left up in the cafeteria, as some students said they would feel more comfortable with them.

Safe Return to Schools: Mr. Nelson reported that attendance at all schools has been over 90%, and there had been only 15 new positive Covid cases among students and staff in the previous two weeks. He said the data was all trending in the right direction. Pool testing has been continued for those who wish to participate. Volunteers and visitors are now allowed back in the building, and plexiglass barriers are being removed as time allows. Daily updates on positive cases will continue to be sent out, but may be eliminated or reduced in frequency following the next School Committee meeting.

Positive News: See separate story.

Directors’ Reports

Social Studies Curriculum: See separate story.

Athletics: Athletics Director Gordie Salls provided a wrap-up on the winter sports season. At SHS, 130 students competed, including two who played cooperative hockey with Marshwood, and three who ran indoor track with Gorham. At SMS, 100 kids took part. He said every team was affected by Covid quarantines at some point, but the athletes and coaches did a great job keeping things going, and the trainers and nurses were instrumental in handling all the paperwork. He noted that the cheerleading squad finished with its best season ever, as runners up in the league championship and fifth in the state. He also spoke about the “tremendous year” and accomplishments of the wrestling team, which took home the State Duals Championship, and is sending five wrestlers to the National Championships in Virginia. The basketball teams, swim team and unified basketball team had successful seasons as well. 220 kids have signed up for spring sports. The pitchers and catchers started March 21, with everyone else starting on the 28th.

Transportation: Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere gave an update on the after school activity bus for SMS and SHS that runs three afternoons a week. He said ridership has been light, but he expects it to pick up, but even if it doesn’t, the cost to the District is minimal. He said Ledgemere has two drivers designated for team trips, which should help with spring sports. There has been a change in the management of Ledgemere’s garage, but he feels it is in good hands. They have been able to hire a few new people.

Ed Tech Evaluations: Mr. Bussiere gave a brief overview of evaluation of Ed Techs, which is going to an all-electronic platform. They are evaluated each year by their supervising teacher, with input of administrators and directors.

Pre-K Lottery: Mr. Bussiere said the lottery for next year’s Pre-K program slots will be open until April 3. As of March 21, 53 families had registered. There are 32 slots in Head Start, which is for economically disadvantaged students, and 64 other slots, for a total of 96.

New Business

Financial Report: Business Manager Cheryl Fournier presented the February financial report, which the School Committee approved. She has a new format which includes visual graphs as well as the regular text report.

Staff Changes: Mr. Nelson read through the list of resignations, retirements, transfers and appointments. IT Director Joan Wright is retiring as of April 22, which he said would have a huge impact. He said they knew she was planning to retire so have done some succession planning. He would like to have her come to a School Committee meeting so she can be properly honored.

The new appointments included many staff for spring athletics. Jamie Lovejoy is a new second grade teacher at Margaret Chase Smith School.

Policies and Procedures: The second reading of the proposed policy and procedure changes from the February 28 meeting was held. The updates to these policies, which involve restorative practices and disciplinary procedures for students up through grade 5, are needed to align with new state laws.

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