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School Department Already Planning for Fall

At the School Committee meeting on May 10, Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson gave the latest update on the plans for bringing all students back to school in-person, full time, in the fall. It was discussed extensively at the School Committee’s workshop last week, but plans are evolving daily.

Mr. Nelson said that classrooms are full now, even though over 700 students district-wide are still doing fully remote instruction. In September, if current social distancing requirements are still in place, the School Department will need to utilize additional classrooms to space students out sufficiently. This will require many more staff members to be hired, and that process is underway now. Mr. Nelson detailed the plans for each school, and the costs associated with each.

At Margaret Chase Smith School, three new teachers and two ed techs are being hired; at Carl J. Lamb School, five teachers and four ed techs will be added. There will also be a district-wide social worker hired, and perhaps an additional counselor for the elementary grades. At Sanford Pride Elementary School, two new teachers, an ed tech and an IEP coordinator are planned.

At Sanford Middle School, where space is an especially difficult issue, the Department has plans to hire 11 new teachers total for grades 5-8, plus two teachers and two ed techs for the Special Education department. Mr. Nelson said that administrators are trying to sort out how to house everyone in the SMS building, but if it is not possible, Willard School will likely be used. At last week’s workshop there was discussion of whether it would be better to move one entire grade there, rather than split a grade. Either 5th or 8th grade is most likely. A final decision on that will probably be announced at the next School Committee meeting on May 24.

At Sanford High School/SRTC, plans call for a clinical supervisor for the CNA program, two new English Language Arts teachers, and one new teacher each in Art, Math, Science and Social Studies.

The total additional personnel costs will be more than $3.1 million, plus costs for the technology and supplies needed to equip the new teachers and classrooms. All of the cost will be covered by federal American Rescue Plan funds.

Committee member Jonathan Mapes questioned if these positions were considered short term and temporary. Mr. Nelson said all teachers are hired on a probationary basis. He said the hope is that many of the new hires may become permanent through retirements and other attrition.

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