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School Committee Meeting: August 21, 2023

By Kendra Williams

Members present were Paula Cote, Amy Sevigny, Jennifer Davie, Melissa Simpson and Kelly Termath. Also in attendance were student representatives Emma Adawadkar and Aidan Gendron.

Minutes from June and July meetings were unanimously approved.

There were no public comments, no communications and no committee reports.

Superintendent’s Report

In order to attract needed Ed Techs, the pay structure has been adjusted and a successful hiring campaign, including career fairs, was conducted this summer. The campaign also included food service, custodial and special education positions. Interviews are still being conducted for other specific openings and substitutes are still needed.

The Administrative Team recently spent time at the York County Community College to build upon their relationship and connection. The team also met together to establish goals, including professional development.

The School Committee had a day-long meeting last week to set goals that include student achievement, school climate and capacity building. They also had meetings with administrators from all schools to hear about their goals, challenges and needed supports. Future meetings of the Advisory Committee were planned.

School Opening Updates

  • Staff meetings and teacher orientation and training will begin this week (Aug. 22-25)
  • Teacher workshops and vendor fairs will be held on Monday, Aug. 28. A district wide meeting and staff meetings at individual schools will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 29. Some professional development will also take place on Tuesday.
  • Tuesday evening, Aug. 29, there will be open houses at the elementary and middle schools as well as SRTC.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 30, will be the first day of school for grades 1-8 and Freshmen.
  • Thursday, Aug. 31, kindergarten and upper high school classes will also begin.
  • There will be no school on Friday, Sept. 1.
  • All students will return to school on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Pre-K will also begin that day.

This is a negotiation year for teacher and ed tech collective bargaining. As part of the process, a plan is being made to start a review committee to ensure that stipends are considered in the process.

Sanford Schools’ mission, vision and core values are due to be updated this year. The process began with sending out a survey at the end of June. About 350 responses came from a variety of constituent groups. A subcommittee will be formed to continue the work on this.

Director Reports

Assistant Superintendent Steven Bussiere provided an update on the First 10 Community School Grant. Sanford Pride Elementary School was one of three schools in Maine awarded this grant from the Department of Education. It’s related to support for children and families during the first 10 years of life to help them grow and thrive. They were able to hire an outreach coordinator and have begun to work on the three broad strategies of the grant. Bussiere outlined the next steps. The lessons and outcomes of this grant will also translate well to the other elementary schools in the district.

An update about the New Mainer population and English as a Second Language (ESL) students was provided. 38 new students arrived near the end of the last school year. With an increase over the summer, there are now 55 new students. That brings the current ESL population to about 111 students, which is a significant increase over last year. A meeting was held today for the new families to provide basic information about the start of the year and an opportunity to answer questions. Printed information and enrollment forms were provided in participants’ native language. Bussiere outlined the various strategies and tools that are being used to communicate with ESL families. He also gave an overview of what instruction during the school day, using best practices, will look like for students new to Sanford. Professional development is being provided, which includes cultural competency. Efforts are being made to access additional funding for the next year to address the increase in the ESL population.

Transportation information has been sent out to parents via email and text messages. Parents can access real-time information for their child using their student ID. Printed copies will be forthcoming soon after some early adjustments and changes are made.

Ledgemere Transportation is starting with the same number of buses as it had last year. They’ve hired additional monitors and van drivers. Some new drivers are in the process of training to become certified drivers, but they’re still several weeks out from being licensed. Conversations with Ledgemere about contract obligations and expectations have occurred. They’ve been responsive and are making a strong effort to recruit new drivers. This is the last year of the current transportation contract. The bidding process for the next contract will take place before next year’s budget process begins.

The administrative task force to address vaping met over the summer to discuss procedures when there is a vaping infraction. Southern Maine Health Care’s tobacco prevention coordinator and the SHS drug and alcohol counselor has joined the task force and providing information about resources. The task force is reviewing what they’ve done in the past and what they can do in the future to address and assist students who have violated the policies and could benefit from support.

Business Administrator Cheryl Fournier presented and explained the proposed contract pay rates for substitutes. They were unanimously accepted as presented.

A proposal was made to extend the increased compensation for additional Covid 19 related staffing duties for before and after school bussing. It was unanimously approved for another semester.

Donations

A donation of 18 almost new Cisco network switches was received by the Sanford School District from Bottom Line Technologies of Portsmouth, NH. The switches match those that are used in this district. If purchased new, they would be valued at between $125,000 and $150,000. Technology director Kerry Hanson and SRTC network instructor Frederick Gluck were thanked for their efforts in acquiring this donation.

Another donation was received from RSU 15/Gray New Gloucester School District, who updated their IPAD charging carts and offered their original ones free of charge, which were greatly needed at the Sanford Middle School. If purchased new they would have cost about $30,000. This donation enables the Chromebooks to remain at the school, preventing damage that can occur when students bring them home. Appreciation for both donations was expressed and unanimously approved.

Resignations, retirements and transfers were announced.

Professional staff nominations for one-year contracts issued over the summer were presented and unanimously approved with one abstention by Amy Sevigny.

No policies and procedures were presented.

A suggested item for a future agenda was cell phone usage. It will be considered first at a policy committee meeting.

Upcoming meetings were reviewed.

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 7:30.

The full meeting may be viewed here:

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