School Committee 4/4 Meeting Summary

SRTC students building a house.

The Sanford School Committee met April 4, 2022. All members were present.

There was no public participation.

Committee Reports

Construction: Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson reported that he will be getting written assurance from Briggs, the subcontractor that is working on the HVAC problem at Sanford High School, that the issue will be resolved even if it takes into next winter. The School Department is finalizing a change order for the SHS/SRTC project to come to an agreement with the contractor on items that still need to be completed, so the project can be closed out.

Mr. Nelson said that office and storage space that were “value engineered” out of the Sanford Middle School renovation project may be built after all, under a local bond that was put in place for that purpose. He is hoping that much of the work, including removal of the peach tile and orange lockers, can be done over the summer. Currently the School Department is using space in the kitchen of the Memorial Gym.

At Margaret Chase Smith School, the fire lane will be paved during the April school vacation.

Scheduling Advisory: The Scheduling Advisory Committee has decided to create focus groups to gather input from stakeholders, rather than issuing a survey. The Committee hopes to conclude its work this fall, to be ready to implement any changes in the fall of 2023.

Sanford Performing Arts Center: School Committee Chair Paula Cote reported that the performances of “Mamma Mia” played to packed houses and received rave reviews. She quoted a Facebook post by Marty McKeon, who called it “a major turning point in SHS theater and musical endeavors…a beaming light of Sanford pride.” Mr. Nelson echoed those comments, and said the students put their absolute all into the shows.

Mr. Nelson also announced that the Bandfest and Spring Sing, which were not open to the public, are both available on WSSR-TV’s YouTube channel for viewing. 230 students participated in Bandfest and 150 in the Spring Sing.

Superintendent’s Report

Student Representatives: Grace Davie and Bella Farrington plugged the SHS Variety Show on April 7, which was being run as a fundraiser by the National Honor Society students. It is available on WSSR as well. Bella also announced that the Sanford Farmers’ Market will return on May 7 from 8:00 to noon at Central Park.

Field Trips: Mr. Nelson went over the schedule of field trips, including the Fire Science trip to Farmington on May 25.

Safe Return to Schools: Mr. Nelson went over the average attendance numbers and how to find the Covid information on the School Department’s website. He said cases have for the most part been holding steady with some increases. There has been a dropoff in participation in the pooled testing program, as school nurses report that many families are using at-home tests instead.

The School Committee had discussed at its previous meeting whether information about positive cases should continue to be pushed out to parents on the Spartan app. Mr. Nelson proposed they be sent only to parents of kids in a school where a positive case is identified, rather than the entire district. Vice Chair Amy Sevigny said she would like the alerts as well as pooled testing to be discontinued altogether.

Positive News: Watch the video.

Directors’ Reports

SRTC Building Trades Program: Troy Hathaway and Peg Levasseur of SRTC were joined by Mark Patterson of Patco to talk about the Building Trades Program, which has built three modular homes in the past five years. Students build the home at school and then finish it onsite. Mr. Hathaway said that the sale of the current project home will make the program financially self-sufficient and enable the school to provide scholarships to students who want to further their education in the building trades.

Mr. Patterson networks with suppliers, as well as the Homebuilders and Remodelers Association of Maine, to get donations of materials for the program. He said it is very easy to get donations, because the industry wants to support and promote getting new people working in the trades.

Ms. Levasseur said that while most Career & Technical Education programs in the state offer carpentry, there are only a half dozen or so that actually build a house, and most ship it out and never see it again, while in Sanford they stay in the community as a point of pride.

The modular home built by the Building Trades students at SRTC.

See this story for more SRTC News.

Safety Committee: Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere presented an update on safety. There have been 26 employee injuries since the beginning of January. Many were slip/trip/fall injuries, as well as injuries from working with students. He said Ed Techs in grades K-4 would be receiving behavior management training which should decrease these student-related injuries in the future. There have been 19 student injuries since January 1, including slip/trip/fall, playground injuries and minor cuts. He noted that student injuries have decreased dramatically over the past few years, which he attributes to the new construction projects.

DHHS Training: Mr. Bussiere said staff would be participating in mandated reporting training through the state Department of Health and Human Services. A refresher course on this is required every four years, so that staff members know how to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect.

Summer Facilities Planning: Mr. Bussiere said the Department is trying to plan food service for the summer. Normally food has to be prepared at the same site where it will be served. Last year there were waivers due to Covid, but those are set to expire on June 30 unless Congress extends them. He said if the waivers are not extended, Margaret Chase Smith School would not be available for summer use, but the Department will work around that if necessary.

Old Business: None

New Business: None

Staff Changes: Mr. Nelson went over the list of staff changes. He noted that at SMS, special education teacher Denise Allaire and fifth grade teacher Barbara Noone are both retiring as of June 30. He thanked them for all they have done and the impact they have had on the school and students over the years. He also noted that Jed Russell will return this year as summer school director, and SMS teacher Joe Mesics will become the assistant varsity football coach at SHS.

Due to the Patriot’s Day holiday, the next School Committee meeting is scheduled for April 25.

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