Friday, June 10, 2022

June 10 - Final Blog Post For 2021-22 School Year!

What a school year it has been!  Ups and downs, challenges and celebrations!  

The 2021-22 School Year has had it all!  But over this past year, we have had far more to celebrate than anything else here in the Gorham Schools!  

Don't take my word for it...see it for yourself in the final set of pictures I share below (Since it is the last one, I shared twice as many pictures)!

  
Pictures sure do say 1,000 words! Now on to the important updates!

UPDATED PROPOSED FY 23 SCHOOL BUDGET INFORMATION 
(After Town Council Vote on June 7)

It is always difficult to keep up with the proposed budget process this time of the year.  On Tuesday night, the Town Council voted to reduce the School Committee's proposed FY 23 school budget by almost $1.6 million dollars.  

It certainly wasn't the best of possible outcomes, but it also was not the worst.

The proposed budget now stands at $46,427,320.00 which is an overall expenditure increase of $2,159,177 over FY 22 or a 4.9% overall increase in expenditures.  This is down from the originally proposed FY 23 budget of an 8.46% increase.  You can view an updated "one pager" by CLICKING HERE to learn more!

As you know, the role of the School Committee is to make decisions, including budget decisions, that are focused on meeting the needs of the children of this community.  I believe the School Committee did a tremendous job in putting together their FY 23 proposed budget that was passed on April 13 by a vote of 5-2 in favor.  

The Town Council's role is to determine what level of funding the community of Gorham can bear. This is an equally important role, and one that at times can clash with the role of the School Committee to provide for the best interest of students.  The Town Council listened intently to our budget presentations, and they asked great questions to better understand the core components of our proposed budget, but at the end of the day what they felt the community could bear was less than what the School Committee requested by that $1.6 million dollars.

That same night, the School Committee then worked diligently to reduce specific items to meet this requirement. The reductions will have negative impacts, but the reductions have been made in a manner that minimizes these impacts to the best of our ability.  

Although we may not "like" this revised budget, it is a budget that I believe is workable.  It doesn't allow us to fully address the priorities we set out to accomplish in this process, but it does allow us to continue to move forward in meeting the needs of our students...just not as far forward as we had hoped.

The list of reductions that were made on Tuesday night are below.  



Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have via email (heather.perry@gorhamschools.org). 

A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to our Administrative team members, and to our School Committee members in working so hard together to find ways in which we could maneuver this difficult budget process to a reasonable conclusion.  It is now up to the voters of Gorham to determine how we move forward.   Remember to get out and vote on June 14!




GOOD NEWS - EXTENDED LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES AND MORE!
We have gotten THREE pieces of pretty darn good news recently regarding expanding opportunities for our high school students to participate in extended learning opportunities (ELO's).  The first I have already shared with you and was announced about 1 month ago.  That is that the Gorham Schools received a three year grant in an amount of $680,000.00 to expand pre apprentice and apprentice opportunities for our young adult learners ages 16-24 in four key areas:

1.  CNA
2.  CDL Drivers
3.  Early Childhood instructors
4.  Educator pathways (i.e. Educational technicians and teachers)

You'll be hearing more on this in the fall as we work with our partners (Gorham Adult Education, SMCC, USM, and others in this important work so stay tuned!

The second piece of good news was just announced on Monday of this week.  It is good news that comes from what was bad news.  It simply shows the resilience of our staff and leadership in problem solving and making sure our students are given the opportunities they seek to learn!  There is a little back story to this one so let me provide the context...

When students began signing up for courses at GHS this late winter and early spring, we had a very large number of our incoming junior class indicate that they wanted to participate in Career and Technical Education (CTE) learning opportunities at either Westbrook Regional Vocational Center ( WRVC) or Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS).  Our guidance counselors worked and worked and were able to "wheel and deal" to get many students into the programs they wanted, but at the end of the day we still had 35 juniors that we were unable to place in CTE programs at either WRVC or PATHS due to seat limitations.  We quickly determined we needed to find another way to provide these students with meaningful workplace learning experiences that were credit bearing.  An idea was born!

The vision entails enrolling these students into a semester long and/or year long internship program that would allow students to earn credits while participating in a workplace internship experience in partnership with area businesses.  We have operated this kind of program for smaller numbers of students over the past two years, but now was clearly the time to take this work to the next level for our students.  The biggest problem that needed to be solved was capacity!  We needed to add staff to coordinate these programs and guide students in ensuring these experiences are meaningful, both for them and for their business mentors.  We decided to apply for funding from the Maine Department of Education to expand our ELO programming.  Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO's) is a large umbrella term that encompasses any credit bearing work place learning experience.  This can range from internships to pre apprentice and apprenticeships to co-op programs and independent studies.

We were just notified on Monday that we received the grant award for $250,000.00 a year for the next two years to kick start this program!  We are so excited to be able to move in this direction and to find more opportunities for our students to experience meaningful, real world, authentic learning opportunities as a result!  More to come on this as we prepare to open the 2022-23 school year!

The third piece of good news we just became aware of on Wednesday.  The Maine Department of Education recently awarded the Jobs For Maine's Graduates (JMG) program a $6 million dollar award at the state level.  The goal of these funds requires that the state-wide JMG organization finds a way to pay 4,200 students each year a "paycheck" for 40 hours of work place learning experiences calculated to be $500.00 per participating student.  These hours can be earned in one week, or over the course of two weeks, or over the course of a whole year.  Because of our strong relations with JMG and because of our successful Aspire Gorham program and the already existing infrastructures we have built here in Gorham to support increasing these authentic learning experiences for our students - JMG made the commitment to Gorham High School that EACH AND EVERY MEMBER of next year's Junior and Senior class will be eligible to receive this $500.00 check payable directly to them as long as they can document these 40 hours.  Not only that, but they further committed that the Junior and Senior classes for the following year (2023-24) will ALSO be receiving these direct payments for their workplace learning experiences!  WHOOT WHOOT!

To be clear, this would issue each GHS Junior (about 200 students) and each GHS Senior (about 200 students) a direct payment for their workplace learning experiences in the amount of $500.00 each for the next two years.  That is an investment of $200,000.00 each year DIRECTLY to our students!  

INCREDIBLE!

All of this work aligns so very well with our Aspire Gorham program and our ultimate vision that eventually our student's high school will encourage that as juniors and seniors, our students have one foot in our buildings as learners, and one foot in the "world" as learners building their future own stories!  Whether that means internships and apprenticeships or that means independent learning opportunities or that means early college courses...we want our students experiencing their futures in meaningful ways while they learn!

JUNE ASPIRE GORHAM NEWSLETTER READY TO VIEW!


Speaking of Aspire Gorham...our June newsletter is ready to view!  I encourage you to CLICK HERE to read more about this incredible work in Gorham!

CELEBRATING A SPECIAL CLASS OF 2022 RETIREES
Each year members of our Gorham School staff family retire.  It is part of our annual tradition to honor these retirees.  Often this is done more at the individual school level with a special presentation to retiring staff on our closing day of school.  

This year we have a pretty incredible class of retirees that I think bears being a little more public in our congratulations and in wishing them the absolute best as they hang up their ID badges and spend more time taking care of themselves and their families.

This year's retirement class represents OVER 323 TOTAL YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE GORHAM SCHOOLS!  Yes, that bears repeating...over 323 years!  Can you imagine how many THOUSANDS (not hundreds, but thousands) of lives these individuals have positively touched over the years?  I am awestruck by their dedication and by their impact to our schools and to our community.  Below is a list of our teacher and support staff retirees for 2022.  If you see any of these folks around town, please take a moment to say THANK YOU and wish them the best in their retirement as all of us do too!  

*. Dennis Crowe, Director of Technology - 14 years.
*. Bryan McManus, Bus Driver - 6 years.
*. Dave Palmer, 8th grade science - 18 years.
*. Joyce LaRou, School nurse at GHS - 24 years.
*. Laurie Kenny, 1st Grade Teacher, Narr. - 24 years.
*. Deb Noble, Special Ed. at GMS - 24 years.
*. Diane Knott, Gifted & Talented - 29 years.
*. Veronica Scontras, 6th grade math - 32 years.
*. Winston Barton, Libraria/Media Specialist @ Vill. - 35 years.
*. Rosalie Mosher, Kindergarten, Great Falls - 43 years.
*. Lona Tassey, 8th grade ELA - 47 years.
*. Deb Roy, HS World Languages - 47 years.


NARRAGANSETT STUDENTS CREATE VIDEO SERIES ON CODE OF CONDUCT
Student leaders at Narragansett Elementary School created a video series for each of the five components of our district Code of Conduct:  Respect, Honesty, Courage, Compassion, and Responsibility.  Great lessons for us all - so I thought I'd share!  Check them out!

Link to video: Respect Video
Link to video: Compassion Video
Link to video: Courage Video
Link to video: Responsibility Video
Link to video: Honesty & Recap Video


K-5 ACADEMIC SUMMER LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS

I'm sure our students don't want to know about this, but I'm thinking there may be some parents out there that are interested in knowing what is available for summer academic learning opportunities for Gorham students.  

CLICK HERE to view a list of these opportunities.

TRANSPORTATION SURVEY REMINDER!

We are asking any parent of a K-12 student in the Gorham Schools for the 2022-23 School year to please complete the transportation survey below IF YOU WILL NEED ANY TRANSPORTATION TO OR FROM SCHOOL TO A LOCATION OTHER THAN YOUR HOME.  If you have already completed this survey you do not need to do it again.

Please reach out to your school's office if you have questions.  Here's the Survey Link:

https://forms.gle/kZC2VoWNit2HPn2f6


SUMMER MUSIC PROGRAMS FOR STUDENTS 
THROUGH USM

2022 Summer youth music and theater camps sponsored by the USM School of music are open for registration.  Through these programs young musicians can strengthen their skills, confidence and experience that can be brought back to their school bands and choruses in the fall.  These summer programs give children an intensive week with their instrument, good instruction, ensemble playing, and fun with their musical friends.  Parents/Guardians and music teachers can learn more about these programs by visiting the website below.  


JOYFUL MOMENTS CALENDARS - FOR FAMILIES 
JUNE & SUMMER MONTHS
I happened upon this monthly calendar series as we were navigating our way through some of the most difficult parts of the Pandemic.  I've shared the link a few times before, but I thought perhaps folks might like to use these calendars this summer to keep some of these methods for creating "joyful moments" individually or as a family at the forefront of their minds while we take a little break from the more arduous academic learning of the regular school year.  Check out the link below if interested!  You will see June's calendar and then just scroll down to view other months!


CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR SENIORS!  
GHS CLASS OF 2022!
It is always hard to truly put your finger on the impacts of one year of learning on individual students.  We measure academic achievement each year, we measure growth, we measure and we measure...but sometimes it is still hard to see.  

I've always believed one of the truest measures of our success as a public school system lies with our graduates.  What types of students have come up through our system?  Are they critical thinkers and problem solvers?  Do they know how to collaborate?  Are they prepared for success in whatever they choose to pursue?  

Each year I make it a point to attend as many of the celebrations as I can for our senior class BECAUSE this is where you get to see the "output" of our school system.  These 200 plus students.  What are their plans after graduation?  How do they hold themselves?  Do they demonstrate our Code of Conduct in their daily interactions with one another, with their families, with their community?  Are they ready to write the next chapters in their future stories?

I can say that by watching the class of 2022 over this past month, and before that, how they have handled themselves over the past few years through a global pandemic - that the answers to all these questions is an undeniable YES.  

From West Point and Tufts University to gap years and directly entering the workforce and everything in between.  I am proud of our 2022 graduates and the young adults they have become.  I look forward to watching them make a positive impact on this world as they have already made on this community.

Congratulations Class of 2022...GO RAMS!

HAVE A GREAT SUMMER BREAK EVERYONE!  SEE YOU BACK HERE IN AUGUST!




Friday, May 27, 2022

May 27 Blog

There is lots to talk about this week...so I'm going to start with my usual "snapshot" of the great things happening in our schools since my last blog and then get right to it.  There are several IMPORTANT updates in this blog so I encourage you to breeze through the headlines and read in more detail those items that jump out to you!  By the way, I didn't have enough space to put all the awesome pictures from our schools these past two weeks, so you should definitely check out our social media sites for more!


Now on to the informational pieces...

RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS IN TEXAS

It is difficult for me to put into words the range of emotions I feel after what occurred earlier this week in Texas when an 18 year old male walked into an elementary school and shot and killed 21 people which included 2 teachers and 19 students.  My hands shake as I type those words.  I know all of you as parents and school staff feel the same range of emotions.  For me, anger and outrage are at the top of the list.  This is followed very quickly by sadness and extreme empathy for what the families and community impacted by this latest shooting are going through right now as everyone tries to make sense of this senseless act of violence. 

I want you to know that I am confident in saying that our schools are as safe as they can be right now.  I also want you to know that none of us are taking for granted or minimizing the seriousness of these recent events and the need to deeply review our safety protocols.  The safety of our school is a constant conversation.

Here's what we currently have in place to keep our children safe while at school:

*. Strong Crisis response plans.  We have a district wide plan, and then each school has what we refer to as their individual "Gold Plans" that are reviewed annually, practiced and shared with all first responding organizations in Gorham.   These plans are reviewed annually by our School Committee as required by law.

*. Strong safety frameworks through use of our A.L.I.C.E protocols that are action oriented and flexible to meet the needs of each unique crisis situation where an active shooter may be involved.  All school staff are trained on the use of these protocols in collaboration with the Gorham Police Department.  Students across grades K-12 also receive specific training in how to follow A.L.I.C.E. protocols in these situations.  

*. Locked doors - ALL of our exterior doors to all of our schools are locked at all times during the school day.  Individuals who wish to enter our schools must enter through a specific designated entrance.  Entrance systems involve two doors.  Visitors are "buzzed" into the building only after they have checked in with front office staff, stated their name and purpose for being in the school.  Individuals who enter our school must then check in with office personnel before being let into the school itself.  Individuals either have their own badges, or are provided a visitor badge so that staff know they are ok to be in the building.  Staff are trained to ask anyone not having an identification badge to stop them and ask why they are there.

*. Security Cameras - We have many security cameras across our schools.  All of these cameras are linked to monitoring systems at each main office so that personnel can continually monitor individuals inside of our schools, as well as key areas outside of our schools.  In the event of an emergency, the Gorham Police Department can access our cameras to see live feeds to help them inform their response.

*. SRO's - We have one SRO assigned full time to Gorham Middle School and another assigned full time to Gorham High School.  Additionally, we have one SRO assigned to the three Elementary Schools.  Because of this level of staffing and our incredible partners at the Gorham PD, we know that our response time to any emergent situation is under 2 minutes.  All SRO's are specifically trained in our ALICE protocols.  Our SRO's form a strong link between the safety of our community and the safety of our schools.  Communication is strong.

*. Strong Training and Collaboration - Over the course of the past several years we have conducted many trainings in collaboration with our local and county wide first responders that range from table top exercises to full scale active shooter trainings located at our schools and conducted with live actors.  These trainings help us to smooth out communication protocols, command structure protocols and the enormous responses that would occur with hundreds of personnel in the event of an actual active shooter event.

*. Strong Communications Plan - All of our school admin. and other designated staff have radios that are equipped to communicate directly with each other and with local first responders in the event of any crisis situation.  Admin. are trained in how to utilize the radios and we do a radio check weekly to ensure radios remain fully functional.  We have specific plans to communicate with each other and with families in the event of a crisis.  We practice these plans often and each time we have to utilize them (recent examples include the natural gas leak at Narr. or the need to evacuate the school due to a threat of violence at GHS earlier this year) we review practices to tweak and tighten them up for the next potential need to utilize them.  We have a strong team of school leaders and community leaders (GPD and GFD) who are in constant contact monitoring the safety of our schools and community.

The overview of our crisis response plan framework can be found on our website, and I have linked it HERE for your reference.  Please know that the current plan is being fully reviewed and prepared for a full update for the coming year.  There is MUCH MORE under that framework document, but we do not communicate that information publicly because we want to ensure those that may be thinking of violent acts towards our schools do not have too much information.  These more detailed plans are confidential for that purpose.

This is a nice segue into what we need to continue to do moving forward to ensure our schools remain as safe as they can be for our students.  Please know what I share below is not an all inclusive list.  As we constantly review information and understand existing conditions, we continue to constantly work to improve our planning.  In other words - this work is never "done" and if done well...is constantly evolving and adjusting.  

Immediate next steps to continue to focus on school safety in Gorham include:

1.  Continued focus on improving our mental health and SEL support services across our schools.  Our current proposed FY 23 budget increases these services across grades K-12.  We will do well to continue to prioritize in these areas as there is no doubt that there is a direct link between school shootings and the mental health needs of those perpetrators of these acts of violence.

2.  Finalizing our review and revisions to the current comprehensive crisis plans.  Much of this work has already been done behind the scenes, but we need to put it all on paper and get the formal revisions out to the public for the summary information that you all need to know our plans are current and up to date.

3.  Continued Professional Development and training.  Ensuring all new staff and auxiliary staff (such as substitutes) remain up to date on our trainings.  Making sure we keep the conversation at the forefront of thinking for all staff,  so we are constantly thinking through the lens of safety.

4.  A focus on improved reporting mechanisms - We've done well to communicate with our staff, students and families the rule of "see something - say something".  This is often how we are made aware of potential threats that we then follow up with swiftly.  However, more could be done in this area to ensure everyone feels comfortable reporting things to either our schools or to the Gorham PD even if they think it may be minor.  It is these early notifications systems that can be very effective in preventing tragedy.

5.  Work with Local and state leaders - to better understand what schools actually NEED to be safe.  Simply throwing more money at the purchase of "things" like bullet proof glass or kevlar vests isn't really the answer.  Unfortunately, for the sake of taking action, this is often what is done.  When one looks historically at school shootings, at the core are often mental health issues and/or human error in not following existing safety protocols.  More often solutions lie in the more complex areas such as increased mental health services or in funding to provide more frequent and deeper prevention and response training.

I know this was a lot of information.  I am sure many of you may be overwhelmed.  I apologize.  It is an overwhelming topic.

In closing I just want to say that first and foremost - if you have any questions about safety protocols and what the schools have in place or do not have in place, I encourage you to reach out to your school's principal or to myself to get those answers.  As parent/guardians you need to know your children are as safe as they can be when they come to our schools.  If you have additional ideas, I also encourage you to reach out to these same folks to share.  It is only as a COMMUNITY working together that we can prevent this kind of violence in our schools.  Finally, I want to leave you with the knowledge that our school leaders and staff care tremendously about keeping our students safe.  We do not take these things lightly and have not been "desensitized" to these tragic events over time.  Safety remains at the forefront of our thoughts.

We LOVE and care for the children of this community.  The images of those 19 young faces haunts us all.  We are constantly and actively continuing to seek ways in which we can improve our safety practices.  We remain committed to continuing to do so.  

CURRICULUM TRANSPARENCY

I have been thinking a lot recently about this issue and I want to make sure that families know that we want you to understand what is, and sometimes just as important, what is not being taught in our schools.

Public schools have always been placed in a tenuous position when it comes to times in our history of political strife and division.  What is or is not taught in our schools can become a lightening rod with families feeling very strongly on opposing sides of complex societal issues.  Public schools serve all students with all kinds of different backgrounds, viewpoints and perspectives and it is this diversity of thought that is often such a vibrant and exciting part of our learning each day.  While public schools honor and care for each individual child in our care, it is our responsibility to teach all children.  This means that the needs of the "whole" at times, can outweigh the needs of the "few".  A dichotomy indeed, but one I believe public school systems (at least in Maine where I've been for 26 years now) do a masterful job of balancing.

Citing directly from our district's policy IJJ (Instructional and Library Materials Selection Policy) it states that:

        "the School Committee recognizes that the final authority as to what materials an individual student             will be exposed to rests with that student’s parents or guardians. However, at no time will the wishes         of one child’s parents to restrict his/her reading or viewing of a particular item infringe on other                 parents’ rights to permit their children to read or view the same material." 

By reading that I hope you can understand the complexity of our public schools trying to navigate student learning.  Particularly in our current society where so many things are divisive.  As public schools we try to remain balanced and open to constructive thought and discourse.  Always with an eye on teaching students how to critically think, ask questions, find facts to inform their thoughts and then learn to think for themselves.  This is our ultimate goal, to "Prepare and Inspire" our children to be thoughtful, informed citizens who determine their own path and continue to learn, question and grow to lead the next generation in our communities.

All this being said - although individual parents may not be able to determine exactly what is or is not taught (as that is ultimately the role of the state and local school committee) that is not to say that parents/guardians should not be well informed of what is being taught.  Families may agree or disagree, but access to this information is important.  Our schools share this information in lots of ways.

First and foremost, I want to make sure that families know you can access ALL of our specific content area and grade level learning standards on our website.  This document is there for all to see and I have LINKED IT HERE for your review.  Now, to be clear, this document is a listing of the outcomes for learning (i.e. skills) we wish to see our student's demonstrate across all grades and subject areas.  How our teachers work with students to demonstrate that learning may vary significantly, especially at the older grade levels where we have fewer core curriculum series.

When you click on that document - you may likely be overwhelmed.  It is a lot of information.  But I encourage parents to do so, and to read through the various standards and performance indicators that are there.  It really does give you a strong sense of the topics and content that is covered across each grade.

Another great resource to know what is being taught in our schools is your own children.  I used to love watching "Leave it to Beaver" growing up (I know that dates me a bit).  But there is something to be said for that nightly dinner table conversation that asks your child:  So what did you learn about today?  Now granted, for some students that may result in an immediate response and for others you may have to "dig" a little more but what a great conversation to have daily with your children and what a great way to hear "from the source" what is happening in our schools.  

I also encourage families to reach out directly to teachers.  Teachers often share information proactively, but if specific questions come up they are there to ask.  Our teachers are incredible professionals who love to talk about what our children are learning.

Then if you have further questions, our building leaders are there to ask as well.  Our Assistant Principals and Principals are also here to help families navigate getting these important questions answered.  

Ultimately, if parents have specific concerns and have very strong feelings about materials being taught there are several processes outlined in our policies that you can follow. These policies have very specific steps and we take each one seriously to ensure that ultimately the right outcomes are reached in that delicate balancing act I described above.  Here are those core policies for your review:

Policy IJJ - Instructional and Library Materials Selection Policy

Policy IJJ-R - Procedures Selection of Curriculum Materials

Policy IJJ-RR - Challenged Materials Procedure

Policy IJJ-E - Citizen's Challenge Of Educational Material Form

Policy IMBB - Accommodations for Sincere Beliefs In Required Instruction

I would also mention that parents/guardians have the right to utilize the Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) to make specific requests for information of our public schools.  These rules are governed at the state and national level and you can learn more about them by CLICKING HERE.  In the Gorham School's, our FOAA "officer" is Rhonda Warren, located in my office.  She is a great person to direct questions to if you have them about what FOAA is or how to utilize it.  Her email address is rhonda.warren@gorhamschools.org.  We will be placing more information on this important Act and sharing the information requested from folks for all to see as a means of additional transparency later this summer.

One of my recent "lessons learned" (of many) is that it is important for our schools to do a better job of making sure parents know how to ask these important questions and get this important information so that you don't feel "un-welcomed" in doing so.  It is often when people are unsure of how to ask these important questions that they feel perhaps barriers exist in them doing so.  I am committed to improving our services in this area moving forward.  You will see this reflected in my upcoming goals for the 2022-23 School year and in my current and future communications to families.   If you have specific ideas on how you think we can do a better job at strengthening our transparency in this area, please feel free to email me at heather.perry@gorhamschools.org.  THANK YOU1

FY 23 BUDGET DEVELOPMENT

There are TWO key steps that remain in the approval of our proposed FY 23 budget:

1.  Town Council Vote on June 7 (meeting will be held in council chambers starting at 6:30 p.m.).

2.  Public Budget Validation Referendum Vote on June 14 (this will be a vote to either approve of the budget passed by Town Council on June 7 or to not approve the budget passed by Town Council on June 7).

There is always much fluidity in this process, especially at this time of the year.  The School Committee passed the proposed budget on April 13, but the Town Council can make changes to that proposed budget at their meeting on June 7.  It really is important to follow along to know what you will be voting on on June 14 because it can change significantly between those two meetings. 

In an effort to try and simplify the proposed FY 23 budget (as passed by the School Committee), I've created the "one pager" below.  This one pager takes what is a 350 page document for the School Committee, and a 200 page document for the Town Council and attempts to put all the highlights in one place.  Please review and know that if you want more details, you can find that and more on our website by CLICKING HERE to learn more.

If that image is too hard to read - CLICK HERE for the PDF version.

UPCOMING GHS GRADUATION DETAILS

This is information taken from Principal Jandreau's newsletters to students and families.  Just wanted to make sure folks had all the details so you can join in to support our Seniors as they end one "chapter" in their future stories and begin to write the next!

Senior Walk:


GHS seniors will participate in our annual "Senior Walk" across all of our K-8 schools. This will take place on June 10, starting at around 9:00 a.m. I will "facebook live" the event from the district's facebook account if folks are interested in following live!


The Graduation Ceremony

  1. Each graduate will receive 8 tickets for family and friends.

  2. Seniors must be at the high school by 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 12th.  They will meet in the gymnasium for last-minute preparations.  They should be wearing caps and gowns and all other regalia (e.g. stoles and cords).

  3. Parking along the GHS Stadium Field will not be permitted from Saturday, June 12th at 7:00 p.m. until Monday, June 14th at 7:00 a.m.  Any vehicle parked along the Stadium Field during this time frame will be towed at the expense of the vehicle’s owner.

  4. Access Road will be closed from the GHS Parking Lot to Narragansett Street (Route 202) beginning at 2:00 p.m. on June 12th and extending through Graduation.

  5. Parking will be extremely limited! There are only 240 parking spots on the GHS campus.  Anyone planning to attend Graduation should make arrangements to carpool, to park off campus and walk, or to park at Gorham Middle School and utilize a shuttle service that we will be running between GMS and GHS.  The shuttle service will begin at 2:30.  It will begin again following the ceremony to transport people back to GMS.

  6. The gates to enter the GHS Stadium will open at 2:30 p.m. for individuals with disabilities and 3:00 p.m. for everyone else. Only those with a ticket will be allowed to enter.  For security reasons, backpacks or other large bags will not be permitted; handheld, personal bags may be searched prior to entering.

  7. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis.  There will be a section reserved for people with disabilities and a section reserved for staff.

  8. Sign language interpreters will be stationed to the side of the stage closest to GHS; if you require this service, please sit accordingly.

  9. Masks will not be required for graduation.

  10. Restrooms will be available at the snack shack.  Food will not be available.

  11. Graduation will be streamed live.  We will be sharing links for the live stream soon:

    1. Youtube: 

    2. Vimeo:

  12. Gorham High School, as are all school facilities, is a tobacco-free zone.  Please refrain from bringing any tobacco products, including cigars, on campus. Police will take notice.

Note:  There is a "rain date" for the same outline above on Monday, June 13 if the ceremony is rained out on Sunday, June 12. 

Graduation Convoy Information



CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR GRADUATING CLASS OF 2022! GO RAMS!

 OUR LITTLE LEARNERS COLLABORATION 

REPORTS SUCCESS!

The "Little Learners" Literacy Program is a collaboration between the Gorham School Department and Baxter Memorial Library, funded in part through our Aspire Gorham work! This program brings high quality literacy programs to our early childhood care providers (centers, family based, etc.) via outreach programs throughout the course of the year.  

So far this year, the program has served 954 local pre school aged children!  Report is outlined below and if you want to learn more, feel free to reach out to Heidi Whelan at Baxter Memorial Library!  We are so very proud of this partnership!  

SUMMER READING PROGRAM - BAXTER LIBRARY

Speaking of our incredible partnerships with Baxter Library...I wanted to make sure to share information on their summer reading program!  Please read below and check out their website to learn more!

I have so much more that I could share, but this is probably enough for now!  My next blog will be the last for the 2021-22 School Year.  Remember:

-  Last student day June 13, 2022 with students being dismissed at half day.

-  Check out our school websites and social media posts to keep up with end of year activities!

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!  In order to emphasize/remind folks why we celebrate...Here's a poem:



 From "On This Memorial Day..."

Remember those who served before.

Remember those who are no more.

Remember those who serve today.

Remember then all on Memorial Day.

THANK YOU TO ALL OUR GORHAM VETERANS, most especially to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms!








Friday, May 13, 2022

May 13 Blog Post

Friday the 13th.  YUP, sure feels like that doesn't it? 😉 Been a busy two weeks and unfortunately a time where COVID 19 has taken "center stage" once again.  It seems our new neighbor does like the spotlight every once in a while!  Even with the challenges associated with an increase in positive cases impacting our schools, it has still been a very positive two weeks for learning though.  Here's some pictures to show a snapshot of what's been going on...

We have plenty to talk about...so let's get to it!  

COVID 19 INFORMATION & REMINDERS

As we continue to see positive cases spike here in the Gorham Schools, I just wanted to send one more STRONG REMINDER that we absolutely are STRONGLY RECOMMENDING that staff and students  wear face coverings while indoors. Due to staffing shortages caused by COVID 19 we are having to move Great Falls Elementary School to fully remote today.  I expect we will be able to reopen Great Falls to in person instruction on Monday, however, we are also struggling with staffing at both Narragansett and Village Schools due to COVID 19 impacts.  We will see what the future holds at these two schools as we move through the next week.

COVID 19 is still very much present in our schools and although I do NOT foresee a time when we will reinstitute a mask mandate in the schools (unless the Maine CDC adjusts their Standard Operating Procedures for schools again), I do know that it is important for all of us to make choices to help curb the spread of COVID 19 so that we can keep our schools safely open to in person instruction.  We each must take responsibility and make choices to help curb the spread.  There are no mandates, but the more we can do to curb the spread - the better off our entire community will be.  Here is what you can consider doing:

1.  Wear a mask while indoors (STRONGLY Recommended)

2.  Consider getting vaccinated/booster if you haven't already done so.

3.  Monitor symptoms daily.

4.  STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK.

5.  Get tested if you are having symptoms (home tests are fine).

6.  Keep your distance when possible.

7.  Open up those windows and get outdoors whenever possible.

We are coming into the home stretch of our school year with just four weeks to go.  There are lots of exciting things happening for our students...end of year celebrations, field experiences, graduations, etc.  Let's make sure we all do what we can to ensure students and families are able to fully participate in these awesome events!  We all have choices to make now... no mandates!  Yeah!  But with choices comes responsibility.  Let's all do what we can to pitch in and curb the spread!👍

Remember, you can follow the data in two key ways:

1.  Keep an eye on our daily active positive case county by school on our website LINKED HERE.

2.  Follow Maine CDC color coded guidance LINKED HERE.  Just so folks are aware - Cumberland County just turned back to orange...medium risk:

Because of the recent positive cases after a previous lull, I've had folks reach out to ask about protocols and guidance about what to do if you test positive or are a close contact.  As a reminder...our current school guidelines are outlined below.  Please reach out to your school's nurse with further questions.

COVID19 Guidance as of 5.10.22

The Gorham School Department follows CDC and MDOE guidance for COVID19 protocols.

Masking ONLY required if:

- known exposure Or day 6-10 after testing positive for COVID19 (if qualifications met).

Close Contact - exposed to COVID19 (including household positives)

Vaccinated:

- Wear mask at school and all public places for 10 days after exposure.

- If symptoms develop, isolate and test immediately.

COVID Positive past 90 days:

- Wear a mask at school and all public places for 10 days after exposure.

- If symptoms develop, isolate and call doctor for guidance immediately.

Unvaccinated or Partially Vaccinated

- Quarantine at home for days zero to 5.

- If no symptoms develop, mask at school / public places days 6-10 after exposure.

- If symptoms develop isolate and test immediately.

Positive for COVID19 - regardless of vaccination status:

- Day Zero to 5 - isolate at home.

- Day 6 to 10 - improved symptoms/no fever x 24 hrs/negative test on Day 6 (if tested).

⁎ Wear a mask when at school/all public places (including outdoor recess & bus).

⁎ Sit 6 feet from others when eating.

- Day 6 to 10 - Symptoms persist OR positive test on Day 6.

⁎ Continue at-home isolation for 10 days.

- Day 11 - Release from isolation/mandatory mask wearing/6 ft distancing when eating.

Symptoms, but Negative for COVID19 - regardless of vaccination status: Stay Home until significant improvement in symptoms:

- No fever x 24 hrs without use of fever-reducing medications.

- Nasal drainage is manageable at school.

- Cough is not disruptive to their day.

- At least 24 hours since last episode of vomiting and/or diarrhea.

COVID Symptoms - Decline test. Individuals are Presumed Positive and need to:

- Stay home 5 days from symptom onset.

- Day 6 - 10: return to school - mask at recess & bus/6 ft distance when eating.


FY 23 PROPOSED GORHAM SCHOOLS BUDGET FACT #2

Did you know that just under 78% of our School's Total Budget is in staffing costs.  We are a "people driven" organization!  But did you also know that 70% of our overall budget is expended DIRECTLY in our classrooms to support our students?  That is well above previous targets set by the state of Maine.  Finally, did you know that just 3.2% of our total budget is spent on system administration.  Private industry standards for businesses with budgets the size of our school's budget set standards in this area at a much higher rate, often 10% or more.  Bottom line...the funding we get from our community goes where it needs to go - to direct support for our student's learning!


Want to learn more?  Check out our Proposed budget informational website LINKED HERE and watch our recent FY 23 budget presentation to the Town Council LINKED HERE!

As a reminder, next step in the budget approval process is the Town Council vote on the School's Budget on June 7, 2022.  This meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers.  Then on June 14 there will be a budget validation referendum vote by the public.

As always, if you have any questions, please reach out (heather.perry@gorhamschools.org).

TRANSPORTATION SURVEY - PARENTS NEED TO COMPLETE BY MAY 27 PLEASE!

We are asking any parent of a K-12 student in the Gorham Schools for the 2022-23 School year to please complete the transportation survey below IF YOU WILL NEED ANY TRANSPORTATION TO OR FROM SCHOOL TO A LOCATION OTHER THAN YOUR HOME.  We ask that surveys are completed by Friday, May 27 so that we may have the necessary information to begin building our bus routes this summer and in preparation for the reopening of school in August, 2022.

Please reach out to your school's office if you have questions.  Here's the Survey Link:

https://forms.gle/kZC2VoWNit2HPn2f6

ASPIRE GORHAM MAY NEWSLETTER READY TO VIEW!

Such incredible work happening across our schools through the ASPIRE Gorham Program!  Check out this month's newsletter LINKED HERE for the latest and greatest going on to help make sure our students continue to craft their future stories in a meaningful way!

TWO DATES FOR DUNK & DISCUSS EVENTS WITH SUPERINTENDENT PERRY!

Although the first date was a wash because Aroma Joe's experienced an unanticipated worker shortage and had to close their lobby area down...two dates remain if folks are interested in participating.  

As the year winds down, as we work to gain approval for our FY 23 Proposed School Budget and as we reflect and think ahead to goals for the coming year, I wanted to offer up an opportunity to just simply sit down with folks who might be interested to chat!  In the past, I've held these meetings early in the morning and have had some feedback that isn't the best time, especially for parents who are working to get their children ready for school.  So for these I'm going to try an after school time.  I realize that time can also be hectic and busy for folks, but perhaps a little more available.  We'll see.  

There are NO AGENDAS for these meetings.  I simply show up.  Individuals who participate can come with specific questions you may have, or you may share ideas or information you think is important for me to be aware of and to consider in my role as Superintendent of Schools here in Gorham.  These meetings are really more of just a conversation and an opportunity for me to LISTEN and for you to get any questions you may have answered.  The only "norm" I will insist upon is that all conversations are respectful and civil.  This is not a meeting to air your political beliefs or for me to air mine.  

Dates/Time/Location for three of these meetings are listed below.  I welcome anyone who cares about the community of Gorham to attend!  

*. Monday, May 16 at 4:00 p.m. at Aroma Joe's - Gorham, ME.
*. Thursday, May 26 at 7:00 p.m. at Aroma Joe's - Gorham, ME. 

Hope to see you there!

JOBS FOR MAINE'S GRADUATES (JMG) CAREER & CORNHOLE DAY - WHAT?

Leave it to our creative GHS JMG students to find a way to meaningfully connect the fun of cornhole to exploration of careers and connecting with area Gorham businesses!  Our students are nothing if not creative!

Although this event is for STUDENTS ONLY (so not open to the general public), it is an event that has been entirely created and put together by students in the JMG program at GHS.  

This event is for ALL grade levels 9-12! A handful of our employers are hiring ages 14+, while others are only hiring 16+ or 18+, so we encourage everyone to attend! Even seniors doing senior internships, especially given all the great opportunities that are only available to ages 18+.

- The goal of this event is for students to make career connections, whether this is to find a part-time job, summer work, or to connect with a business that you might be considering for your future career and have a little fun while doing it!

Want to learn more or check out our student's creativity?  Check out their website link by CLICKING HERE.

GORHAM GIRLS BASKETBALL CAMP INFORMATION AVAILABLE!

Gorham Girls Basketball Camp and K-2 Co-ed basketball camp will be held at Gorham  Middle School from June 27th-June 30th. The camp is for girls entering grades 3rd-8th and boys and girls entering k-2nd.

The registration link and camp description can be found at gorhamgirlsbasketball.org

THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK SURVEY!

We had well over 400 parent/guardians participate in our teacher appreciation week survey that asked folks to describe the character traits of our incredible teachers...I shared the results with our teachers on Friday, but wanted you to see them too!  I definitely couldn't say it any better!  Check it out in wordle form below!



SOUTH WINDHAM LITTLE FALLS VILLAGE MASTER PLANNING

Did you know that the Town of Gorham and the Town of Windham are collaboratively working together to create an updated vision plan for this area on both sides of the Presumpscot River?  Interested in learning more about how to get involved?  Check out the information below from Northstar Planning!

The Towns of Windham and Gorham are working with Aceto Landscape Architects and North Star Planning to create an updated vision plan for this community on both sides of the Presumpscot River. This project started a couple of months ago, and we hope you can engage with the work over the next several weeks as we aim to ramp up public participation and outreach.

Community Survey: Please take a few minutes to respond to the survey on the project page at https://www.villagesmasterplan.com. This survey will be open through at least the end of May, but please respond early so we can share preliminary results at the first public meeting.

Public Meeting May 25: We'll be having an in-person meeting on Wednesday, May 25, from 6:30 - 8:00 PM at the Little Falls Activity Center, located at 40 Acorn Street in Gorham. We'll be sharing some analysis, what we have heard so far, and asking for your thoughts on what we should be focusing on as we move into community design work this summer.

Please visit the project web site www.villagesmasterplan.com for more information and to take the survey. You can also register for future updates, view mapping work in progress and more.

Thanks very much, and we hope you stay engaged with this work as we move forward!

Regards,
The Vision Plan Team
--
Ben Smith, AICP
207-400-6097


IN CLOSING. . .

A quick quote to share that I thought folks might appreciate!  


Please know that each teacher, secretary, bus driver teacher and other educator in our schools are doing their best for our children every day and that we all know each of you as parents/families are doing the same!  Keep up the great work...summer is just around the corner!

Well that is enough for this edition!  As a reminder...LOTS of activities going on in our schools!  Best way to follow is to go to our website (www.gorhamschools.org) and click on each school's website to view their calendar and announcements!