School Committee 9/12 Meeting Summary
The Sanford School Committee met September 12, 2022. Three of the five members were present: Paula Cote, John Roux and Jen Davie.
The agenda listed the start time as 6:30 p.m., but due to a number of student hearings held in executive session, the regular meeting didn’t begin until 7:34. Due to the late start, a number of agenda items were postponed until the next meeting.
The minutes of August meetings were approved.
Natalie Giles, a junior at Sanford High School, spoke about concerns that she and other students have with the current schedule regarding 5th block. She said SRTC students are not able to get enough credits with this schedule and have to take classes outside of school to get enough credits to graduate.
Scheduling: Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson said the Scheduling Advisory Committee met on September 7 and will meet next on the 21st. They are in the process of evaluating scheduling options and the pros and cons of each. He said the 5th block is a part of that discussion. He does not expect to see any changes this school year, if changes are made they will begin in the 2023-2024 school year.
Student Representatives: Mr. Nelson received a written report from John Paul Alexandre. John Paul said the school year started well with no Covid restrictions. Preparations for Homecoming, which starts September 26, are in full swing, and this year’s theme is Superheroes.
Field Trips: Mr. Nelson reported seven students will be attending the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute in Bangor on September 29.
Opening of School: Mr. Nelson gave kudos to all students and staff for a very successful start to the school year, with a special shoutout to the custodial and maintenance staff for their extra effort in getting everything ready. The year began on August 23 with new teacher orientation. Two inservice workshops were held August 24 and 25, with an emphasis on school safety. Grades 1-9 started school on the 29th, followed by grades 10-12 on the 30th, and Kindergarden students on August 31. PreK began on September 6 and is now fully up and running. He will have enrollment numbers at next week’s meeting, but overall enrollment is up compared to last year.
Construction: The SHS/SRTC construction project is still not closed out due to “a substantial disagreement” between the School Department and the contractor on the amount due, in the range of $200,000. Article 42 of the construction contract provides that, in the event of a dispute, the parties will proceed to mediation before going to arbitration. Mr. Nelson sent a letter to the contractor on September 2, but has not received a reply yet.
School Safety: There will be an update on safety at the next meeting, including a crisis plan for the School Committee to review and adopt. The School Department is working on getting the Alertus app added to everyone’s phones. The Safety Committee will meet Monday afternoon. The initial round of lockdown drills is planned for September 20. A safety newsletter will be coming out soon.
Sanford Middle School: Principal Pam Lydon reported the SMS open house was a huge success with great attendance from all grades. New staff members have onboarded very well. The hallways have been jazzed up and the orange lockers and peach tile are gone. 7th and 8th grades had a block party last Friday, and 5th and 6th graders will have one this week. The school is continuing to foster the importance of social emotional learning. An anti-bullying event is being planned for all grades. Challenge Day for 7th and 8th graders is also coming up. Restorative circles are running. She showed several snapshots of student activities. She encouraged all SMS families to get the Spartan app so they can receive the weekly newsletter. She thanked the families for being supportive so they could kick off the year in a positive way.
Sanford High School: Principal Matt Petermann reported students were very excited to be in school without masks and to be able to sit with their friends at lunchtime. The 9th graders were welcomed on the first day by the SHS athletes, cheer squad and marching band. Freshmen had the school to themselves for the first day so they could learn how to navigate through the building and how things operate. The marching band showed off their brand new uniforms at Friday night’s football game, and did an abbreviated version of their show. Homecoming 2022 will include dress up days and a pep rally. New staff members are getting involved in the pep club and breathing new life into it. Officers of the Class of 2026 gave speeches that day. Elections for 9th grade class officers will be in place before Homecoming for the first time.
Sanford Regional Technical Center: Director Kathy Sargent said the year started off with great energy on August 29. Even though many of their partner schools had not started school by the 29th, classes were full at SRTC. 607 students are enrolled this year in 22 programs. 329 are in the morning program, which is mostly first year students, and 278 in the afternoon program, which is mostly second year. 161 are from Sanford High School. The two new staff members are Tom Dupuis, plumbing instructor, and administrative assistant Stephanie Emmons. The school is adding apprenticeship programs this year in collaboration with the Maine Department of Labor. Eight SRTC programs are offering concurrent enrollment through a variety of institutions, enabling students to start accumulating college credits while still in high school. She showed photos from the first few weeks of school including a new kitchen garden in front of the culinary arts program. A variety of third-party exams for specific programs are coming up in the first quarter. Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled for November 3 and the college and career fair will be November 10. She thanked parents and students for “taking a risk on something different.”
Athletics: New Athletic Director Zach Lemelin reported that programs are off to a great start with 239 athletes at SHS and 126 at SMS. The fall parents meeting in August was very well attended. Over 80 home events are scheduled at SHS this fall. SHS will be hosting some Sanford Soccer tournaments including the state championship. He encouraged everyone to follow the sanford_athletics Instagram account as well as SanfordSpartans on Twitter. Posts include game updates and player profiles. He has a student volunteer who is helping with graphics and social media. The Hudl Focus Outdoor camera automatically tracks the ball and has a lot of additional features. 17 athletes attended the first meeting of the Department’s Leadership Council to discuss ways to make the athletic programs better. Transportation and officiating have been a challenge. Some football games will be moved to nights other than Friday due to a shortage of officials. He thanked his support staff and the custodial staff for keeping the facilities in top notch condition.
Solar Project: Mr. Nelson said the SRTC electrical program is interested in expanding its training to include solar photovoltaic installation and wiring. They propose to install a solar system which will offset a small part of the school’s power use, but its primary purpose is training rather than money saving. Wiring instructor Tim Fecteau said they are working collaboratively with Jay Desmond of Northeast Electric, who is donating his time and expertise. The plan is to install approximately 25 panels per year on the roof of the Alumni Stadium fieldhouse. Donations from the industry are being sought to cover the cost of components and permitting. The School Committee voted to approve the proposal, with Chair Paula Cote calling it “a wonderful opportunity for our students and our school.”
Staff changes: Mr. Nelson read through the list of staff resignations, appointments and transfers. The Committee approved the nominations for new teachers and other staff members.
Calendar: School Committee meetings are scheduled for September 19, October 3 and October 17. There will be a workshop at some point on SHS scheduling.
The full meeting video may be viewed on Town Hall Streams here and on YouTube here.
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