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School Committee April 5 Meeting Summary

Under public participation, Sanford High School Principal Matt Petermann thanked Sarah Schnell of WSSR-TV for her help in broadcasting a virtual state cheering competition. He said that it was feared that they would not be able to have a competition this year due to Covid regulations, but they made it work, and the National Federation of High School Associations praised it as the best cheering event of the season.

Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson gave an update on construction. He said some progress has been made on the miscellaneous issues remaining at SHS, and hopes that more items will get crossed off the list during April vacation. He detailed the work that is being done at Pride Elementary. The date for that project to be substantially completed has been pushed back from June 1 to June 30, but staff will be able to move into parts of the school completed before that date.

Vice Chair Paula Cote gave an update on the Sanford Performing Arts Center. There are six dance recitals happening this spring, and the facility will be used nearly every weekend for one event or another. SHS will have its spring production, a Broadway revue called “The Show Must Go On” May 6-8, with 35 students involved. Senior class students will be able to use SPAC for all their events at the end of the school year. There will be dance competitions held at SPAC over the summer, with teams coming from all over the state. With new Covid guidelines, the theater can seat 300 people.

Chair Don Jamison gave an update on WSSR-TV. He said he and Ms. Cote would be meeting with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and City Manager this week, and would be discussing the future of the operation and how best to grow it. He will have more information at the next School Committee meeting.

Committee member Jonathan Mapes reported on Adult Education. He said that they will be having an in-person graduation ceremony this year, scheduled for June 2 at 7:00 p.m.

In student representative reports, Juliana Levesque reported that the SHS Civil Rights Team is worked on Autism Acceptance Month and is looking at a social media campaign addressing prejudice against Asians. Bella Farrington is working on getting students involved in growing things to sell at the Sanford Farmers’ Market. Grace Davie continues to work on a survey for student and teacher feedback about scheduling.

Mr. Nelson talked about the process of bringing students back into school four days a week. He said there is still a waitlist of students at Carl J. Lamb School. At the High School, some class sizes are approaching capacity. At the Middle School, where space is the tightest, they added supervised satellite classrooms for each grade level, where students can follow along virtually with the rest of their classmates. They can all come together at lunch and break times.

Mr. Nelson thanked Ocean State Job Lots for a donation of 80 boxes of personal protective equipment to the Department, including gloves, face shields and hand sanitizer.

Mr. Nelson presented some positive news of happenings at each of the schools. See the story on the Read Dogs of Willard School.

Tara Houle and Cheryl Gifford, Jobs for Maine Graduates specialists at SMS and SHS, gave a presentation on their program.

Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere said Ledgmere, the company that provides transportation for the School Department, had a rocky couple of weeks with some Covid cases, but are back on track now. They are working now on filling the transportation needs of the Athletics Department, which is scheduling games on Wednesdays and Saturdays when busing is not an issue.

Mr. Bussiere announced that, with most kids now in school four days a week, there was less need for the remote meal distribution program, so they will discontinue distributions at Lafayette School. Remote meals will still be available for pickup at the High School. The Department is also providing meals for kids from newborns to age 18 at some daycare centers, Curtis Lake Church, the YMCA and Nasson Community Center. On Wednesdays, the buses distribute about 500 meals.

Curriculum Director Beth Lambert talked about summer programming, which will include a Title 1 program for kids in grades K-4 and a Jump Start program for incoming kindergarteners. She is looking at using some of the Covid funds to hire teachers to work with the Parks & Rec Department to create learning opportunities at summer camp. She is working on many more ideas for summer learning at all grade levels. There will be book giveaways to help build home libraries for students. Mr. Nelson added that the Department started advertising for summer positions earlier than usual to try and fill all the job openings.

The Council approved new pay rates for substitute school nurses, custodians, administrative assistants and maintenance/grounds staff.

The Committee approved the Budget Committee’s recommended school budget for 2021-2022. After approval by the City Council, it will go to referendum.

The new Graduation Requirements policy was unanimously approved after the second reading. The new policy eliminates proficiency-based diploma requirements and adds a requirement for one credit of personal finance education.

A video of the entire meeting can be viewed here:

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