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A slide from the Instructional Coaches presentation

The Sanford School Committee met May 23, 2022. Committee member Jonathan Mapes was absent, all others were present.

Public Comments

Victor Van Gieson spoke about difficulties his children have had getting the classes they wanted or needed at Sanford High School. He said one of his kids had to go outside of the school system to get a class needed to graduate, while another wasn’t able to take a shop class because he wasn’t enrolled in SRTC. “The way the system is set up, a lot of opportunities are lost,” he said.

Committee Reports

Construction: Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson reported that concerns about the roofing at Sanford High School were allayed by an inspection which showed that it appears to have very good drainage, and no further work is needed. This brings the project one step closer to completion.

Scheduling Advisory: Mr. Nelson said the Scheduling Advisory Committee will complete its review of student and staff feedback at its next meeting.

Sanford Performing Arts Center: School Committee Chair Paula Cote said the national tour of Dog Man: The Musical will come to SPAC this Friday for a special performance which all students in grades 1-3 will attend. The national tour of Menopause The Musical will play at SPAC on June 24, and tickets are on sale now. Warren’s Office Supply has signed on to be the first sponsor of next season’s programming. There will be an announcement this week about an outdoor concert at Goodall Park.

Superintendent’s Report

Student Representatives: John Paul Alexandre reported that Prom went very well and it was a fun night. Last week NWEA and state testing was completed. A “This Is Us” event was held last Friday, which he described as a field day for kids to get to know each other. A hike of Mount Major is planned for this week.

Bella Farrington added that seniors are getting ready to finish up the year. A sendoff for National Honor Society members is planned for this week. She and three other students attended a state chorus event at UMaine over the past weekend where they performed six pieces.

Field Trips: Mr. Nelson went through the list of field trips, which includes several students traveling to the Skills USA National Conference in Atlanta, GA for a week. The state track meet will be held in Bangor on June 4, and students who qualify will be going up the night before.

Safe Return to Schools: Mr. Nelson reported that although York County is in “yellow” status for community transmission of Covid, attendance at Sanford schools has remained over 85% since his previous update, with most schools’ attendance over 90%. He said the School Department has begun distributing free at-home Covid tests to all students and staff. Each person can get up to six tests. The tests are being sent home with high school students. For K-8 students, times are being scheduled for parents or guardians to pick up the tests, and parents can also contact the schools for alternative arrangements.

Committee member Amy Sevigny again requested that daily Covid updates not be sent through the Spartan app, as she said people who don’t want the updates are deleting the app from their phones, causing them to miss other important information.

School News: Mr. Nelson presented the PowerPoint of positive news. You can view it here.

Directors’ Reports

K-4 Instructional Coaches Presentation: Math Coach Jenna Daniels, Literacy Coach Marie Sclafani and Literacy Coach Christy Crowley gave a presentation. They explained the various aspects of their work, providing the following services to teachers in the district: a multi-tier system of support, professional learning communities, students assessments, data analysis, coaching cycles, professional development, curriculum support and Title 1 coordination. They go into the classrooms and co-teach to model lessons. The coaching is student-centered and looks at where students are and how they can be supported to reach their goals.

The coaches make sure everything is cohesive across all three elementary schools, so that students are all getting the same instruction. All professional development is recorded and uploaded so that teachers can access it whenever they need to. They stressed that every teacher receives coaching, not just new teachers or those who need help, and that coaching is supportive and non-evaluative.

Dropout Prevention: Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere gave the annual report of the Dropout Prevention Committee, whose work is mandated by state law. He went over a list of risk factors for dropping out of school including negative social and family attitudes, early adult responsibilities, poor literacy, low school engagements and behavioral issues. In the 2020-21 school year, 3.23% of the high school population dropped out, which he said is a slight uptick but not out of line with other recent years. Looking at the four-year cohort graduation rate, out of 251 students who started high school in 2017, 85.26% graduated within four years, which was down slightly from the previous two years. Some students took longer to graduate, while others aged out of the system so aren’t technically dropouts. He noted that most other schools in southern Maine also had a decrease in the graduation rate last year.

He covered effective strategies for preventing dropouts, and said he could not stress enough the importance of reading to children. The support system currently in place for students has four prongs: monitoring their progress, providing intensive individualized support, engaging them with curricula and programs, and creating personalized communities such as BRIDGE and special education.

Progress has been made on many of the recommendations made by the Dropout Prevention Committee last year, including increasing the number of school counselors and expanding Pre-K, but things that still need work include providing after-school academic support, reinstating CO-OP at SHS and expanding the JMG program. Additional recommendations for this year include strengthening and sustaining the mental health support provided to students, providing alternative learning options, and doing more to support freshman success. Student Representative John Paul Alexandre suggested a student-to-student mentorship program, which Mr. Bussiere said was a very good idea.

Pre-K Update: Mr. Bussiere reported that the Pre-K program hours will be extended to mirror the elementary school schedule, in response to concerns from parents about child care and transportation. Interviews for Pre-K teachers were held last week and they have three good candidates who are now in the second round of interviews.

New Business

RFQs: The School Committee voted to approve the following bids:

  • $28,087 from Warren’s Office Supply for Pre-K furniture. It will be the same type as the new furniture at Sanford Pride Elementary.
  • $29,264.53 from Lakeshore Learning Materials for Pre-K supplies.
  • $723,142.42 from Pro AV Systems for audio/visual services and technology for the Willard Building, SRTC, Margaret Chase Smith School and Carl J. Lamb School. This is being paid through the RUS Grant, which includes three other school districts. Ms. Fournier said the district has used Pro AV multiple times in the past and they have done a great job.

Staff Changes: Mr. Nelson went through the list of staff resignations, transfers and appointments, which included several appointments for kitchen summer personnel. Two SMS teachers, Kim Shorey and Samantha Hilt Coleman, are leaving the district at the end of the summer. Marc Silver is a new chemistry teacher at SHS, and Matthew LaBerge is a new chorus teacher there.

Policies and Procedures: The Committee accepted the first reading of a revision of the Family Medical Leave Policy GBN. The policy has been updated to include new categories of family members required by state law, and also includes federal military caregiver leave.

Calendar: The next School Committee meeting will be Monday, June 6. SHS Graduation is Wednesday, June 8 at 6:00 p.m. The last day of school is Friday, June 10. Another School Committee meeting will be held June 13, if a quorum of members can attend.

The full meeting video may be viewed here.

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