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School Committee Meeting Highlights 5/6/2024

School committee meeting May 6, 2024

By Kendra Williams

SRTC

The Sanford Regional Technical Center Advisory Committee, comprised of representatives and superintendents from the seven partner schools, sat with students from their schools to hear about their experiences and those of their peers during a meeting May 6 at the SRTC Cafe.

Prior to the luncheon, the committee held its monthly business meeting with several important discussions, including:

  • There continues to be strong interest in the SRTC programs; 649 students from partner schools applied for admission to SRTC programs for the coming year.
  • A Maine law is now in place to ensure that students in the high school technical school programs receive appropriate credits in core curriculum subjects that can be used to meet graduation requirements. The next steps are to work on curriculum development and approval by the School Committee to have it in place for the 2025-26 school year.
  • The 2024-25 school calendars were agreed upon, ensuring that Maine’s requirement for no more than five dissimilar days – differences in school calendars – among all participating districts is met.
  • Two programs are mislabeled according to updated state codes. Pre-Engineering needs to be changed to Applied Engineering and Technologies and Digital Design changed to Commercial and Advertising Art.
  • Based on interest survey results from students in grades 5-12 in partner school districts, the Advisory Committee has recommended the addition of two new programs. If the School Committee approves at a subsequent meeting, SRTC Director Matthew Peterman will seek approval from the Maine Department of Education to add a Baking and Pastry Program and an Athletic Training Program to begin in the 2025-26 school year.

Special Education

At a recent meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee, the discussion was focused on staff recruitment and retention. The next meeting will focus on programming for 18- to 22-year-old students. An upcoming challenge will be the development of programming for 3- to 5-year-olds beginning in the 2026-27 school year since it’s been decided that Child Development Services will be transitioned to the public schools in Maine.

Student Representative Reports

Aiden Gendron: The shortage of prom tickets was resolved by working with the venue to add extra spaces. The consensus was it was a very successful and fun prom. This week the Top 50 banquet will honor top students throughout the school district.

Emma Adawadkar: Advanced Placement exams began Tuesday. Wednesday night was to be a big night for the arts at SHS, with an art show as well as the band and chorus concerts.

Emma and Aiden reviewed the May Student Spotlight Newsletter highlighting students and events at schools throughout the Sanford School District from P-K to Adult Education and SRTC. The newsletter is available at www.sanford.org.

Superintendent’s Report

Sanford will be sending students to the All-State Chorus and Band Festival on May 15. The Mount Major hike for SHS students will be coming this week. Committee member Emily Sheffield added that she recently encountered students in the Arts and Communication wing who had attended the recent ACDA Adjudicated Festival and were very proud of their accomplishments. The Treble Choir received an Excellent rating. The Chamber Singers received the highest rating possible, Superior with Distinction.

Director Reports

Dropout prevention: Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere provided an overview of the Dropout Committee’s work, including data, trends and recommendations that were shared at the workshop. Of note is that the dropout rate is the lowest it’s been in 10 years. Graduation rates have also increased.

Extended school year programming: Special Education will be held at Carl J Lamb (CJL).

Title 1 will be at Sanford Pride Elementary (SPE). The summer recreation programs will be held at Sanford Middle School (SMS), CJL and SPE. Summer food service will be at Sanford High School, SMS, CJL and SPE. It will also be at Carpentier Park, Springvale Park, Curtis Lake Church and the YMCA.

Homeless student monitoring: Sanford Schools were selected for the State’s McKinney-Vento Act monitoring process. A report sent in last week highlights efforts to meet compliance with the federal law. which includes having a designated homeless liaison and an outreach team to support coordinated services, annually informing all staff about the educational rights of all homeless students, and public dissemination of the rights through various means. The process allows for enrolling students promptly. Transportation is provided to allow students to stay in their school of origin if they choose to. Dedicated outreach staff provides connection to medical housing and other services and resources. Guidance counselors provide support for college and career readiness and access to other school programming such as Title I. Attendance and graduation rates for homeless students in Sanford are outpacing the state average. According to the report, the number of homeless students in Sanford has risen sharply, from 27 in the 2019-20 school year to 181 as of this April 1.

New model for federal title funds: Bussiere and Curriculum Director Beth Lambert explained the components, targeted needs and goals of the four federal title programs for which Sanford receives funds. An effort is underway to develop a school-wide model for the four different funds. The goal is to provide more flexibility, better alignment, support of all teachers and engagement of all families.

Summer Planning

Lambert reviewed summer enrichment opportunities for students. There will be an SRTC Exploratory Program for middle school students from the center’s partner schools June 24-28. A middle school drama camp for Sanford students will be held from July 8-12. Title I summer school for grades K-4 and the extended school year programming for special ed students will be held from July 8-August 1.

A brochure is being developed with summer ideas and activities to get kids engaged at home and in the community.

School Budget Referendum

Superintendent Nelson reviewed the FY 2025 school budget that will be on the ballot at the June 11 school budget validation election.

Staffing

Nelson made staffing announcements with special mention of Diane (Dee) Ames, fifth- and sixth-grade music teacher, and Ellen Barry, Health Occupations teacher, thanking them for the positive impact they’ve had over the years and wishing them well in their retirement.

The next School Committee meeting will be held on May 20 at 6 pm in City Hall Chambers.

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