The Sanford School Committee met August 15, 2022. All members were present.
There were no public comments or communications.
Scheduling Advisory: Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson reported that the Scheduling Advisory Committee met at the end of June to review survey results from staff and students. They will meet next on August 22 to begin using that data to build schedules. The goal is to bring any recommended schedule changes to the School Committee in fall or early winter. Although initially no changes were planned for this school year, the feedback from the surveys was overwhelmingly in favor of adding a short Spartan Time block to Wednesdays schedule, so that change is being made.
Performing Arts: Brett Williams, Director of the Sanford Performing Arts Center, presented his plans for a modest increase in fees for rental of the facility by outside groups. For example, rental by Sanford nonprofit groups will increase from $450 to $500. Full-day rental for dance competitions will increase from $1,900 to $2,100. He said these increases move SPAC’s fees more in line with other performing arts centers, and gets them one step closer to the final rates that were planned when it opened. The City of Sanford and the School District will still be able to use the facility at no charge. He will be back next month to present the schedule for the 2022-23 Spotlight Series of performances.
Student Representatives: John Paul Alexandre is the sole student representative but he was unavailable to attend the meeting due to soccer practice. The School Department hopes to have recommendations for new candidates at the second School Committee in September.
Opening of School: Mr. Nelson went through the schedule of opening events. New teacher orientation is August 23, teacher and staff in-service days are August 24 and 25. Open house for 9th graders at SHS will be August 23. Sanford Middle School will have the 5th and 6th graders at separate times on the 24th. The elementary school open houses will be August 25th. The first day for grades 1-9 is August 29, with Kindergarten and Pre-K starting on the 31st. He asked that families be aware the classrooms may not be fully set up on open house days. The new Covid guidelines are still being reviewed by the state, but they are expected to remove recommendations for quarantining.
Hiring: Mr. Nelson said the Department is working hard to get all openings filled. They are still looking for a psychologist for Carl J. Lamb School, English Language Arts teachers at SHS and SMS, a BRIDGE teacher, ed techs for all schools, and other positions.
Construction: Mr. Nelson reported that the City Fire Marshal and Code Enforcement Officer inspected Willard School last week and a few minor things need to be corrected before a certificate of occupancy can be issued. He thanked the custodians and maintenance staff, as well as staff from Sanford Community Adult Education and the BRIDGE program for their hard work getting ready for the move. Contractors are putting drywall over the orange lockers and peach tile at SMS and should be done with that this week. The SHS/SRTC project will be closed out and the contractors paid, though some work remains to be done.
School Safety: Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere talked about some of the work done over the summer, including reviewing the crisis emergency plan and critical incident response, but also more prosaic safety measures such as making sure there are no places where people might trip or slip and fall. The School District has used a lockdown protocol for critical incidents, but after some research, will be moving to the ALICE model, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. He said this is a multi-option approach that may be used by anyone, anywhere in the face of violence, including on the trails or at the mall. School Resource Office Joe Jourdain is the ALICE specialist, and he has provided training to Safety Committee members and school administrators. School staff will get an overview next week during in-service days, with follow-up throughout the school year. Students in grades 7 and up will also be introduced to ALICE, with training for younger children centered on helping them follow teachers’ directions. Mr. Bussiere will have more details on ALICE at upcoming School Committee meetings.
Pre-K Update: Mr. Bussiere reported that the Head Start program, which the School District contracts with for part of the Pre-K program, was unable to hire a teacher for its second classroom. To fill all the 96 seats in the program, an additional class is being created at Sanford Pride Elementary School. Kindergarten teacher Bonnie Carman will be transferring to Pre-K to teach the class. There are still some openings available, contact the Central Office at 207-324-2810 to register your child. Pre-K student screening is scheduled for August 29 and 30.
Transportation: Ledgemere is having difficulty finding enough drivers for school buses. Some routes have been combined as a result. There are four prospective drivers who will be starting as monitors while they are working on getting their commercial drivers’ licenses. The school bus routes will be posted on the School Department’s website soon. A message will be sent through the Spartan App when routes are finalized. Parents will also be able to go on VersaTrans and enter their student’s ID number to get the exact stop location and times. As a result of bus driver shortages, dismissal time at SMS and SHS will be 2:15 p.m., but may need adjustment as the year progresses.
Summer Programming Wrap Up: Over 120 students were served in the Jumpstart and Title 1 programs over the summer, and it went very well. The special education program is usually four weeks but this summer they were able to do five. Food service personnel served almost 27,000 meals. Mr. Nelson said the School Department will be reaching out to parents to make sure everyone who is eligible fills out the free and reduced meal form, even though all meals are free, because the same forms determine the District’s Title 1 funding. The form is available online and also in a printable paper form here: https://www.sanford.org/page/food-nutrition-program.
Summer Enrichment: Curriculum Director Beth Lambert gave an overview of the enrichment activities offered during the summer, including Band Camp which was attended by 79 SHS and SMS students, and SMS Drama Camp which had more than twice as many kids participate as last summer. Four staff members worked with the Sanford Recreation Department at day camps doing grade-level and STEM activities. Books were distributed to kids at CJL and SPE, including graphic novels for the reluctant readers.
Memorial Gym: The School Committee voted unanimously to return Veterans Memorial Gym to the care, custody and control of the City of Sanford, pending formal acceptance by the City Council. Mr. Nelson said the collaborative relationship between the City and School Department will allow the BRIDGE program to use the Gym and the batting cages to be utilized by the softball team. He said it is a golden opportunity for SCAE to make use of the facility as well.
Substitute Pay Rates: Business Manager Cheryl Fournier presented a proposal to raise the daily pay rates for substitute teachers, with a little extra incentive for retired teachers to encourage them to come back as subs. The new base daily rate will be $110 for a sub without a teaching certificate, $125 for a sub with a teaching certificate, and $130 for a retired teacher. The daily rate for long-term substitute teachers (20+ consecutive days) is increasing as well. As part of the effort to motivate retired teachers to work as substitute teachers rather than as substitute ed techs, the pay rates for ed techs subs are decreasing. The Committee accepted the recommendation unanimously.
Financials: Ms. Fournier presented the May 2022 Financial Report, which was accepted.
Compensation for Additional Covid-19 Stipend: The Committee unanimously approved an extension to the additional stipends paid to teachers and ed techs who cover classes for other staff members who are out related to Covid-19. The money for the stipends comes from federal ESSER funds.
Custodial Contract: The Committee voted unanimously to ratify the tentative agreement on the Sanford Custodial Contract for 2022-25, which was presented in Executive Session prior to the regular meeting.
Staff Changes: Mr. Nelson went through the lengthy list of staff appointments, nominations, transfers, resignations and retirements. He thanked two special education ed techs; Marilyn Weltin, who devoted much time to her work at SHS, and Karen Knight, who is retiring after many years at CJL.
Calendar: The School Committee will have a workshop on August 17 at 10:00 a.m. The next regular meetings are scheduled for September 12 and 19.
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