The Sanford School Committee met May 9, 2022. Jen Davie was absent; all other members were present.
There were no public comments.
Construction: Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson reported that discussions are continuing to close out the SHS/SRTC construction project. The Core Building Committee was finally able to tour Sanford Middle School, Margaret Chase Smith School and Sanford Pride Elementary, and members were very pleased and happy with the results.
SHS Scheduling Advisory: The Committee is meeting this week to review feedback from students and teachers, focusing on the three guiding questions: What do we want in a schedule? What do we need in a schedule? And what can’t we have?
Sanford Performing Arts Center: Chair Paul Cote reported that dance recital season is underway and that various groups are enjoying the SPAC stage. Mr. Nelson added that there are also several spring concerts happening, including the SHS spring concert this week.
Student Representatives: None of the student representatives were in attendance at the meeting, but passed along some information. SHS Prom is this weekend at Rivermill in Dover, NH. Juniors have been completing their NWEA testing and AP testing has also begun. Track team has a home meet this week and the “This Is Us” event is scheduled for Friday the 20th.
Safe Return to Schools: Mr. Nelson announced that this would be the final week for pooled testing. The district has ordered at-home Covid test kits which will be distributed to families and staff. York County’s community level for Covid has gone up from green to yellow. When we are in yellow status, it is recommended to get vaccinated if you are not already, wear masks and get tested if you have symptoms. He brought up the statistics on attendance for each of the schools, which have been holding steady in the 85-95% level. There were fourteen new cases of the virus throughout the district that day. Carl J. Lamb School has the most active cases at 24, which he said has impacted the staff in particular.
School News: Mr. Nelson went through the PowerPoint presentation of positive school news. See separate story.
JMG: Students from the JMG (Jobs for Maine Graduates) programs at the High School and Middle School gave a presentation on their Full Plate, Full Potential project. The goal of the project was to increase the number of students who take advantage of the free breakfast and lunch offered in the schools. At SHS, only 100-200 of the 1,100 students eat breakfast, and 500-600 eat lunch.
Emily Letourneau, a freshman, and Hailey Boduc, a senior, said the JMG students researched food insecurity and surveyed students about their likes and dislikes, and why they didn’t eat. They made yogurt parfaits and handed 600 of them out to students at breakfast time. They also used the opportunity to educate students about federal nutrition rules, quiet spaces in the school to eat, and the process for those with food sensitivities to get special meals. School nutrition staff reported that, the following day, a record 337 students ate breakfast, and the number has held steady at over 300 per day since then.
Elizabeth Mottolo and Isabella Mitchell, students at SMS, reported that the JMG students also did their research and found that only 15% of kids at the school were taking advantage of the free breakfast. Most were unaware that breakfast is available until 10:00 a.m. so it is not necessary to rush before homeroom. Within days of their educational outreach, there was an increase of almost a hundred students eating breakfast each day. The JMG students used their survey results to offer suggestions to school administrators on how to further increase participation.
School Committee members congratulated the JMG students and their teachers on their work and their presentation. Mr. Nelson noted that free breakfast and lunch will be offered again next school year.
Staff Wellness: Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere reported the Annual Wellness Day for staff was held the previous week on the afternoon of early release day. Business Manager Cheryl Fournier met with staff to discuss open enrollment and updates to insurance plans. Wellness activities included pickleball, volleyball, walking and yoga. He thanked the wellness team for making the afternoon a success.
Pre-K: Mr. Bussiere said registration applications for families selected through the lottery process were due May 13. The hours for the Pre-K program were originally scheduled to be 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., but the advisory team is looking into ways to expand those hours. Once a decision has been made on the hours, all families that have been accepted will be notified. After that, registration will be opened up to families on the wait list.
Summer Programming: Mr. Bussiere said SHS, SMS, CJL and SPE schools will be used for the summer programming. MCS is not able to be used as it is not approved for summer food service, which is a requirement. SMS is also not approved, but students can walk from there over to the Memorial Gym for their meals. Free meals will be available to all children age 18 and younger this summer, at SHS, SPE, Carpentier Park, Curtis Lake Church, Springvale Playground and the YMCA.
Programming for the summer will include Title 1 summer reading and math intervention for grades K-5, Jumpstart for incoming Kindergarten students at SPE, and extended school year for special education students at CJL.
Curriculum Director Beth Lambert reported that the Department is working with Sanford Recreation again this year to offer fun educational components in the summer camps. SMS and SHS band camps will take place right after school ends, the week of June 13. SMS drama camp will be sometime in the middle of July. SRTC will offer its summer exploratory week for middle school students at the end of June. SHS will have credit recovery programs. Books will be sent home will all students to help them build home libraries and encourage reading over the summer. Elementary students will get a fiction and a nonfiction book, upper grades will get one book. She is working on the summer brochure which will include links to library activities and other things families can do. It will be ready by the time school gets out.
Food Service Contract: The Committee approved a new three-year contract with food service workers, which begins July 1. Committee member John Roux praised the work of the union representatives.
Acton Contracts: The Committee approved three new contracts with the Acton School District, to provide Nutrition Director Service, Educational Services and Special Education Administrative Services. The contracts are being staggered so they do not all end in the same year. Committee member Jonathan Mapes noted that the Department has a nice working relationship with the Acton School Board, which has already approved the contracts.
Willard Painting: Ms. Fournier said the painting work to get Willard School ready for Sanford Community Adult Education to move in was put out to bid as two separate projects, but each received only one bid, from the Department’s usual contractor. The first floor and stairwells will cost $83,200, and the work is due to be finished by June 1. The bid for painting the basement level was $72,000, and is due by June 15. She said staggering the painting allows moving to be done in stages as the work is completed.
March Financials: Ms. Fournier went over the financial reports for March, which were accepted.
Staff Changes: Mr. Nelson went through the lists of staff resignations, appointments and nominations, which including many appointments for summer staff, as well as second-year nominations that included ESSER-funded positions.
Policies and Procedures: A second reading was held on a workplace bullying policy. Mr. Bussiere said the policy is necessary to meet legal requirements. It was approved unanimously. The School Department’s Policy manual is online here.
Calendar: The next School Committee meeting is scheduled for May 23. In June, the School Committee will meet on the 6th and the 13th, to avoid a conflict with the Juneteenth holiday on the 20th.
View the full School Committee meeting on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jgQLTuXUUE&t=3118s.
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