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At the Sanford School Committee’s regular meeting on September 21, the following items were among those presented or discussed:

  • Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson gave an update on the construction projects at Sanford High School, Margaret Chase Smith School and Sanford Middle School. The final walk-through for SMS is scheduled for later this week, and in-person classes are at this time still planned to begin on September 28. School Committee and Building Committee members will tour SMS and MCS on Tuesday. Mr. Nelson also spoke about the upcoming construction at the old Junior High, which is now known as the Converted Elementary School. Work there is scheduled to begin October 1.
  • Committee member Emily Sheffield gave a report on the Performing Arts Center. Most programming is on hold due to the pandemic, but the Performing Arts Committee is discussing having some kind of Christmas program to provide a little holiday cheer. Once the school is back to green and activities can resume, they would also like to get the theater group busy with some one-act plays.
  • Committee member Kendra Williams gave a report on WSSR-TV. They are working on a postcard mailing to be sent to every home in Sanford and Springvale, with information on how to access programming, to be paid for with Covid Relief Funds. Sarah Schnell, who heads up WSSR, is working on several new projects, including possibly turning Rick Stanley’s radio show into videos, and getting cameras for Alumni Field so that once games can be played, they can be streamed as well. Ms. Schnell added that WSSR’s YouTube channel is getting close to 1,000 subscribers, at which time videos can be monetized to provide a small additional revenue stream.
  • Superintendent Nelson gave an update on the Covid-19 outbreak at Sanford High School and the Sanford Regional Technical Center. He said there were 12 cases connected to the schools, which resulted in his decision Friday afternoon to close them for at least two weeks, and have students go to full remote learning. He is meeting regularly with Maine CDC and the Maine Department of Education. Faculty and staff are working remotely at this time as well, in order for the building to be thoroughly cleaned, with a focus on high-touch areas. A new Covid-19 information page has been added to the School Department’s website, and includes positive case counts broken down by school.
  • Assistant Superintendent of Schools Steve Bussiere reported on the Distance Learning Academy being run at the Lafayette School in collaboration with the YMCA. The program provides academic support, as well as breakfast and lunch, to kids on remote learning days. The students are separated into pods by school. There is a cost of $25 per day to the family, but scholarships are available. No one has been turned away for inability to pay, he said. Currently about 20 students are enrolled, but calls from interested parents are being received every day.
  • Curriculum Director Beth Lambert gave an update on the Calvert Learning program. She said there have been a number of questions and glitches, but with help from Calvert’s District Manager, they are being addressed. There is a dedicated page on the School Department’s website to help parents find answers to issues that come up. Ms. Lambert reported that of the 3,112 students enrolled in the Sanford School District, 706 chose fully remote learning, and 326 of those are using Calvert. This represents 10.5% of the total district enrollment. There are three teachers, plus Ms. Lambert, supporting them. She said if more parents opt for Calvert, additional support staff may be needed.
  • Two new agreements with the Sanford Federation of Teachers union were approved. One sets up a sick leave bank to provide pay for teachers who have to quarantine due to symptoms of Covid, and have used up their own sick time. The other provides additional compensation for the extra hours teachers and ed techs may work due to the pandemic. Details can be found in the attachments to the meeting agenda.

A video of the full meeting is here.

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