The Sanford School Committee met June 6, 2022. Committee member Jen Davie was absent, all others were present.
There were no public comments.
Committee member Jonathan Mapes reported that he and Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson have been invited by the Charter Review Committee to participate in the public hearing this Thursday, June 9. They will present the budget portion of the proposed amendments to Sanford’s City Charter. He wanted to make the other School Committee members aware that the proposed amendments include expanding the Budget Committee to 17 members, which would include all five members of the School Committee. The public hearing will be held in City Hall Council Chambers and via Zoom, beginning at 6:00 p.m.
Construction: Mr. Nelson reported that the change order and punch list on the Sanford High School/SRTC construction project has been sent to the contractor, Hutter Construction, but he has not received a reply. He will reach out to them this week to make sure they received it and get an update.
Schedule Advisory: The Schedule Advisory Committee has not been able to meet due to end-of-year conflicts, but they are hoping to have one more meeting before breaking for the summer.
Sanford Performing Arts Center: School Committee Chair Paula Cote reported that SPAC has been very busy this spring with dance performances and recitals, which have brought in over $20,000 in revenue. The 2021/22 Spotlight Series of performances wraps up next week with Menopause the Musical. Every student in grades 1-3 came to SPAC on May 22 for a free performance of the off-broadway show Dogman: The Musical. SPAC will be presenting its first outdoor performance, at Goodall Park on Saturday, July 16, in collaboration with the City of Sanford. The Strafford Wind Symphony will perform on a stage at second base.
School Safety: With the recent mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas on everyone’s mind, Mr. Nelson addressed the issue of safety in Sanford schools. He wanted to assure people that the Department is reviewing its safety procedures to make sure they are doing everything necessary. He and Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere met last week with Police Chief Craig Andersen, School Resource Officer Joe Jourdain and former SRO Mike Gordon to go over the protocols and map out a plan for the future. He said they are doing a good job with lockdown procedures, but those need to be continually updated and evolve. The Police Department is very interested in supporting the ALICE program, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. Mr. Nelson called the program very age-appropriate and said it is popular with schools around the country and here in Maine. Margaret Chase Smith School is not being used for summer programming, so the Police Department will conduct some active shooter training there. He concluded by saying that administrators are looking into installing a locking vestibule at Carl J. Lamb School like the ones at the other schools.
Student Representatives: John Paul Alexandre reported that finals are starting Wednesday and that senior events are in full swing. The track team had its state meet on Saturday, and 3 or 4 members of the team qualified for nationals. The other spring sports are winding up.
Mr. Nelson added that the boys lacrosse team hosted a playoff game against Massabesic and won, and the varsity baseball team also won a playoff game against Kennebunk at Goodall Park.
Safe Return to Schools: Mr. Nelson said this will be his last update on this subject, as all Covid-related standard operating procedures are being discontinued at the end of the school year. This decision was made in consultation with state agencies. The Covid-specific protocols will be replaced by the preexisting communicable disease protocols, which include health strategies like hand hygiene, recommending vaccinations, asking people to stay home when sick, and ventilation. Absenteeism will be monitored next school year, and if it exceeds 15%, precautions will be taken. He noted that York County’s community level is back to green and cases have decreased significantly. “I feel confident that we are going to be able to put this behind us and move on,” he said.
School News: Mr. Nelson gave the Powerpoint presentation on school news. You can view a video of it here on YouTube.
Gifted & Talented Program: Erik Benham and Chambree Kumka, directors of the Gifted and Talented program for the district, gave a presentation on their work. Mr. Benham works with grades K-4 and Ms. Kumka with grades 5-12.
They talked about the screening process for the program, which involves a combination of test scores and teacher input. Students are screened starting in second grade, but may be admitted to the program at any time. They encourage families to reach out to them if they have questions or think their child may be right for the program. Currently, 42 elementary students, 44 students at Sanford Middle School and 41 at SHS are involved with the program.
Their duties include collaborating with teachers in servicing gifted and talented students, working with students individually and in groups to provide academic challenges and spur creative thinking skills, introducing students to contests and extracurricular opportunities, and monitoring their progress throughout the year. At SHS, Ms. Kumka also serves as a resource and advocate for students and assists them in working out course pathways.
ESEA: Mr. Bussiere gave an update from the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) advisory team, which determines how the various federal Title funds the School District receives are spent. Title 1 funds are targeted to economically disadvantaged students, including those who are homeless, and includes family engagement initiatives. 90% of all the Title funding the District receives goes toward educational interventions for these students, including literacy and math coaches, summer school, and the Jump Start program for incoming Kindergarteners. Sanford’s Title 1 funding has decreased substantially for the second year in a row, as the economic condition of our city has improved according to census data. This means that intervention services are increasingly being paid from the local budget. He said the Department is looking at moving to a schoolwide model, where an elementary interventionist would provide support to all students rather than just those targeted for help.
Title 2 funds are for professional development, and also showed a decrease from last year. Mr. Bussiere said teachers are specifically asking for training on trauma-informed practices, which helps educators understand how traumatic events in a child’s life impact their learning and behavior. Leadership training is another area where teachers have requested professional development.
Title 4 funds are for student support and academic enrichment. That funding has increased slightly as our student population has also increased.
Summer Programming: Curriculum Director Beth Lambert gave a presentation on the information that school administrators are pushing out to parents through their newsletters. Some of the summer activities being offered include drama camp for middle schoolers; band camp for grades 5-12, for which 78 students have signed up; reading programs run by the Goodall and Springvale Libraries; virtual field trips to Williamsburg and an aquarium. The New England Patriots are sponsoring a Read Between the Lines challenge. Students who earn the most points will be invited to a special Patriots event. The Sanford Backpack Program has a schedule of food distributions, and the School Department’s food service schedule is also included in the info to parents.
For professional development this summer, Ms. Lambert said the teachers will have a number of opportunities including book studies, supporting ninth graders, executive function training and restorative practices. Sanford will participate for the first time in a three-day virtual summer institute that includes other districts. Teachers can sign up for one class or the entire event.
Mr. Nelson noted that the Department has run into challenges in filling the positions for summer programming to the same level as last year.
Summer nominations: The Committee voted to allow Mr. Nelson to offer teaching contracts throughout the summer for unfilled positions. This is a standard agenda item every year.
Financial report: Business Manager Cheryl Fournier presented the August financial report, which was accepted.
RFQ for Audio Visual Services: On Ms. Fournier’s recommendation, the Committee voted to retract the bid for audio/visual services that had been awarded to Pro AV Systems at the last meeting, and award it instead to VoDiVi Technologies. It was discovered that the Pro AV bid was missing some necessary items. This change increases the contract amount by almost $130,000, which is being paid through grant funds.
Staff changes: Mr. Nelson read through the lists of resignations and retirements, staff transfers, nominations and appointments. He thanked Mona Lamb, kitchen lead person at SHS, and Eleanor Merrick, Title 1 coordinator, who are both retiring after many years with the Department.
Policies and Procedures: The second reading of the update to the Family Medical Leave Act policy was held, after which the Committee voted to approve it.
Calendar: Mr. Nelson announced that the date of the next School Committee meeting, which had been originally scheduled for June 13, has been changed to Thursday, June 16.