School Committee 6/16 Meeting Summary

Student Representatives John Paul Alexandre, Grace Davie and Bella Farrington.

The Sanford School Committee met June 16, 2022. John Roux was absent, all other members were present.

There were no minutes to approve and no public comments or other communications.

Committee Reports

Construction: Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson reported that the contractor on the Sanford High School building project has issues with the change order and will not sign it. The School Department is communicating with the Maine Department of Education and legal counsel and will try to avoid litigation. He said they were hopeful the change order would be signed but the refusal was not unexpected.

Scheduling: The Scheduling Committee has been unable to find a time to meet but will try to get together one more time to wrap up the survey results before recessing for the summer.

Sanford Performing Arts Center: Chair Paula Cote said there are a few tickets left for Menopause The Musical this Friday. Planning is well underway for next season, with some old favorites returning and other new and exciting ideas in the works. The budget is healthy thanks to rentals to dance schools, which have already booked again for next year.

Superintendent’s Report

Student Representatives: Bella Farrington reported that Project Graduation was really fun, she appreciates everyone who helped out and organized. She reminded everyone that the Sanford Farmers’ Market is held every Saturday. Grace Davie encouraged everyone to attend the Block Party at Nasson Community Center the next day to support the Fromwiller family.

On behalf of the School Committee, the central office and the entire School Department, Mr. Nelson thanked Bella and Grace for serving as Student Representatives. He said they are both great representatives of the School Department and everything it stands for, and are two of the most well-rounded students he has ever seen. At Graduation, Bella was the Class of 2022 Valedictorian and Grace was recognized with the Alumni Cup for her impactful community service. He presented each one with a token of appreciation to help them in their future endeavors. “I know both of you will go and change the world for the better,” he said.

Budget Referendum: Mr. Nelson thanked the Sanford community for passing the School Budget at last week’s referendum, with just under 75% approval. He also thanked the School Department staff and Committee members who worked hard on the budget.

School Committee member Jonathan Mapes reported that the Charter Review Committee will be presenting its recommendations to the City Council on Tuesday, June 21. He doesn’t agree with the recommendation to increase the size of the Budget Committee to 17 members, with all members of the City Council and the School Committee, plus five members of the public. He said it was an effort to force Council members to get more involved with the budget.

End-of-Year Activities: Mr. Nelson said he was very pleased, proud and impressed with how the school year ended. The weather was good for Graduation and over 240 graduates were recognized. The BRIDGE program also held its graduation, which he attended along with School Committee members John Roux and Jonathan Mapes. The Sanford Regional Technical Center held a recognition night for Sanford students as well as those from sending schools. The 8th grade celebration had to be moved indoors to Memorial Gym due to wet weather. It was followed by a dance that evening. He said the Department is putting a lot of focus on transition activities for incoming 5th and 9th graders. Kindergarten screening is ongoing. He said all the end-of-year activities felt like being back to normal again after the pandemic.

Directors’ Reports

Summer Meals: Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere gave an update on the Summer Food Service program, which began Tuesday, June 21. Breakfast and lunch are available to all Sanford/Springvale residents 18 and under. The four main locations are Carl J. Lamb School, Sanford High School, Sanford Pride Elementary and the YMCA. Meals are also available at Curtis Lake Church, Carpentier Park and Springvale Playground. See the flyer for times. While last year meals could be taken offsite to consume, this year they must be eaten onsite.

Pre-K Expansion: Mr. Bussiere said the Pre-K classrooms at Sanford Regional Technical Center, CJL, Margaret Chase Smith School and SPE are now full and have a waiting list. The Head Start classes, which have income eligibility requirements, still have some openings. Parents who want to sign their children up can contact the School Department central office or Head Start directly. The Head Start program is also looking for a teacher. The Department is still working on getting all the supplies and furniture that are needed. The Advisory team is meeting July 13 to fine tune the procedures and routines for the Pre-K program. Curriculum training for the staff will be done the first week of August.

NWEA Update: Curriculum Director Beth Lambert provided an update on the NWEA spring testing. The scores are compared to the national averages for each grade level, which were established before the Covid pandemic. On the latest round of testing, all of Sanford’s elementary and middle school classes scored below the national average for math and literacy, and most of the high school classes as well.

Mr. Nelson pointed out that during the past two years, students missed a lot of class time due to hybrid learning and Covid quarantining. He also noted that the Department made a deliberate decision last fall to focus on Social Emotional Learning, to help kids recover from the psychological impacts of isolation during the pandemic. He would like to do a deeper dive into the data to see if other factors might be affecting scores. Ms. Lambert said next year the Department will continue to build on the SEL work that has been done, while strengthening the focus on academic achievement.

The School Committee’s Student Representatives each said more needs to be done at the high school level to explain the importance of the NWEA test and give kids sufficient time to complete it. Bella Farrington said many students just pick random answers to get done as quickly as possible, since they know they are not graded on it. School Committee members weighed in with their thoughts. Mr. Mapes said the Pre-K expansion should help improve scores by getting kids reading sooner.

New Business

Meeting Schedule: The Committee approved the meeting schedule for the next year. They have no meetings scheduled in July but will meet August 1 and 15. The meeting schedule is typically the first and third Mondays of each month, but has to be adjusted for holidays and school vacations.

Staff changes: Mr. Nelson went through the list of staff retirements, resignations, transfers, nominations and appointments. He noted that Mary Rancourt, the Maintenance Department’s administrative assistant, is retiring after 29 years serving the District. Assistant Athletic Director Zachary Lemelin will be taking over as Athletic Director starting August 1. There will be a transition period during which he will work with current Athletic Director Gordie Salls until he retires in the fall. Allyson Howard will be a new Kindergarten teacher at MCS, when Dawna Werner moves up to teach 2nd grade. CJL has several new staffers coming on board, including art teacher Kaleigh Jones, 1st grade teacher Nicole Hill, Laura Young in grade 2, Patricia Hill in Special Ed, and Sara Clinehens, a Library Information Technology Specialist. Sasha Hampton, a 3rd grade teacher at SPE, is moving into a Kindergarten position. English Language Arts teacher Sara Crabtree will be moving from grade 6 to grade 7 at SMS. Hiring continues to fill openings across the District.

Future agenda items: Mr. Nelson said he is hopeful that mediators can come in with a tentative agreement on the custodian’s contract, which the School Committee will need to review in executive session before authorizing. At Leadership Team meetings, he and Ms. Cote have been discussing the possibility of having a communications coordinator for the School District, like the one the City of Sanford now employs.

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