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School Committee Meeting: September 11, 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. 

The meeting was called to order and began with a moment of silence to honor Chace Fromwiller, a 13-year-old Sanford Middle School student, who died that morning after an almost two-year battle with DIPG, a childhood cancer. Information has been sent out to students and families and a team has been made available for those who need support.

Adjustments to Agenda

A presentation by Principal Pam Lydon regarding the opening of the Sanford Middle School was postponed until next week.

Minutes from August meetings were unanimously approved.

Public Comments-None

Committee Reports-None

Communications

A well-written communication from a teacher regarding the extreme heat last week was acknowledged by Superintendent Nelson. The teacher questioned whether accommodations, due to climate change causing an increased occurrence of extreme heat, were being considered going forward. Mr. Nelson outlined several possible strategies and collaborations with other districts and Maine’s Department of Education for planning on how to adjust to the changes. He also complimented the staff and students who responded to the challenges with a positive attitude.

Student Representative Reports

Aiden Gendron reported on the homecoming events planned for the weekend of October 13. Emma Adawadkar reported on the National Honor Society and plans for a student and parent night on September 19. Also, on September 13, there will be an informational meeting for the SHS Class of 2025 student trip to France next spring. Mr. Nelson announced the application process that is beginning later this week for juniors who would be interested in becoming a representative on the School Committee.

Superintendent’s Report

School Opening: The beginning of the school year has gone well despite some challenges with the weather and bus breakdowns. Parent open houses were well-attended and the staggered start schedule went well. Enrollment is up by 56 students as compared to last year. Mr. Nelson reviewed the numbers in each of the schools and other related information.

The Student Spotlight Newsletter with district information was briefly reviewed. The full newsletter can be seen here.

Construction Update: Final efforts to close out the contract for the High School and Technical Center are in process. Many of the necessary changes have been completed by the contractor but there are still others that are outstanding. The contractor has been notified of the remaining changes needing completion before the final closeout can occur.

Directors’ Reports

Sanford High School Principal Amanda Doyle outlined goals for the coming year in several areas. She also reviewed administrative staff changes. Orientation for Freshmen students and their families was successful. She provided an overview of the first several days of school and the startup of many clubs and activities.

Athletic Director Zack Lemelin provided an overview of fall athletic activities and participation. 253 students are participating, which is a 6% increase over last year. There will be 85 home sports events this fall taking place at the High School fields. There are also several Middle School athletic events taking place at Cobb Stadium and Blouin Field. He also discussed the extreme heat last week. The National Federation of State High School Associations’ guidelines regarding the heat index which he reviewed, are followed. Mr. Lemelin highlighted some of the upcoming athletic activities that we can look forward to throughout the fall. He also reviewed apps and social media resources that can keep people up to date on athletic information. Finally, he spoke about the Leadership Council that meets weekly for discussions about leadership, team goals and climate and culture. Student athletes are selected by their teammates or coaches. It gives them an opportunity to learn about what’s going on from one program to another and to voice questions and concerns.

Assistant Superintendent’s Report

Mr. Bussiere provided an update about the Pre-K screening that took place at the end of August. The screening helps to determine if there are any potential special needs and to refer to Child Development Services for further evaluation, as required by the Child Find law, when concerns are present. 19 students began Pre-K on Sept. 5 and there’s an effort to fill the remaining 4 slots. Overall, Pre-K is off to a good start.

Transportation challenges have occurred due to road construction projects creating delays, a mechanical problem and driver call out. Routes will continue to be refined this week to minimize delays. Ledgemere is meeting all the athletic transportation needs in house.

There are 106 English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students that began the school year. The Department of Education provided professional development related to multicultural learners last week. Mr. Bussiere explained the ways instruction will be different for ESOL students this year using a pull-out model as well as time in the regular classroom with their peers. Going forward, communication and translation with families, using various methods and technologies, will be a priority.

There is a great need in the district for substitutes, especially nurses. Those interested are encouraged to apply.

Donations

Two generous donations from the Gerard and Gertrude Genest Charitable Trust were received through the Sanford Schools Legacy Foundation. The first donation of $25,000 is for the Sanford Performing Arts Center lighting and other capital needs that were “value engineered” out of the original construction project. The second donation of $50,000 is for the Carl J. Lamb playground to supplement and replace worn equipment from the thirty-two-year-old school and to make other improvements that will make the playground comparable to those of the other elementary schools in the district. This donation supplements the significant funds raised over many years by the CJL PTA that are being used to purchase and install a major piece of equipment this fall. A motion to accept these donations was unanimously approved and gratitude was expressed.

Resignations, retirements, appointments and transfers were announced by Mr. Nelson.

Professional staff nominations were announced, and all were unanimously approved for a

one-year probationary contract.

Policies and Procedures-The cell phone usage policy is being discussed by the Policy Committee and Administrative Team. Several other policy updates will be presented next week.

Items for Future Agenda-None

Upcoming Calendar Announcements were reviewed.

Next School Committee meeting 9/18/23 at 6 PM

Adjournment at 7:15 PM

This full meeting may be viewed Here.

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