School Committee Meeting Summary: February 22, 2021

School Committee Member Jonathan Mapes apologized for comments he made at the February 8 meeting with regard to getting kids back in school more days per week. “My comment was unacceptable, for that I offer a genuine apology,” he said. Chair Don Jamison added, “Everybody in this room holds the entire staff in the highest esteem. Maybe we haven’t told them that enough.”

Mr. Jamison said that the Committee is still receiving a couple of emails a day from parents in favor of getting kids back in school more.

Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson gave an update on construction projects at the various schools. He said the dust collection system in the welding shop at SRTC is finally working at an acceptable level. When the old carpeting on the library floor at the Converted Elementary School was removed, it was discovered that the floor is painted underneath. The paint will need to be removed in order for the new carpeting to adhere properly. Committee Member Amy Sevigny asked if that extra expense is really necessary. Mr. Nelson replied that the contractor won’t warrantee their work unless it is done.

Mr. Nelson detailed an issue with Warren Mechanical, one of the subcontractors working on the High School, for work they did which they believed exceeded their obligation, but which the contractor thought was included in the contractual scope of work. Mediation was unsuccessful, and there is now a lawsuit pending. Mr. Nelson said the School Department will file to stay the case and move to arbitration.

In his update on Sanford Community Adult Education, Mr. Mapes said they are working on adding a Driver Ed program, and are looking for an instructor.

Thanks were given to everyone who helped at the Sanford Backpack Program’s recent food distribution. Over 100,000 pounds of food were distributed to area families.

Mr. Nelson offered congratulations to Student Representative Grace Davie, on her volunteering award.

In his Covid update, Mr. Nelson said that the boys basketball teams are in quarantine, after a player on a team they played the previous week had been diagnosed with the virus. Several games have had to be cancelled as a result.

He spoke next about the survey that was sent out to parents about having students back in school four days a week. He provided some preliminary numbers, but said the survey deadline was that night, so he expected the numbers to increase. They are looking at classroom spaces to figure out how all students can be accommodated under the distancing guidelines. More desks and personal protective equipment have been ordered. His main concern with bringing students back more days per week is having sufficient staff.

Ms. Sevigny gave an update on work of the School Naming Committee. She said the Committee received 454 responses to their recent survey, with 256 favoring naming the school for a person, and 198 for a locale or thing. The top five vote getters for a person’s name were Margaret Maurais, Sharon Remick, Allen Mapes, Brian Flanagan, and Joyce & George Willard. The Committee members appreciated the biographical information on each person supplied by Paul Auger. Among the votes for a locale or thing’s name, there were several variations proposed on Spartan Elementary, Sanford Elementary and Mousam Valley Elementary. Central Elementary and Main Street Elementary were also among the suggestions.

Assistant Superintendent Steve Bussiere gave a presentation on the Professional Evaluation, Professional Growth System (PEPG), which is the system used to evaluate the performances of all school employees that work under a teacher’s contract, which includes not only teachers, but also guidance counselors, librarians and school nurses.

Business Manager Cheryl Fournier gave an update on the CRF/CARES/ESSER grant funds, and the January financial statements.

The Committee extended the Covid-related sick leave benefits, sick leave bank and compensation for additional Covid-related duties for another month. These will be monthly agenda items through the end of the pandemic.

Mr. Nelson announced the monthly staff resignations, appointments and transfers. Substitute custodian Josh Engram has transferred to a position as full-time second shift custodian at the Middle School. Kindergarten Literacy Ed Tech Bridget Adams has transferred to a long-term substitute Kindergarten teacher position at Carl J. Lamb. Nerissa Cyr has joined SMS as an administrative assistant through the end of the school year.

The next School Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 1. Mr. Nelson will have another update on return to in-person learning; the Committee will also take action on the proposed budget and the naming of the Converted Elementary School.