Thursday, August 23, 2018

WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL!

Hard to believe the summer has already flown by! We are all excited to see students back in our buildings once again!  Students in grades K, 6 & 9 will return to school on Wednesday, August 29 and all students will return on Thursday, August 30th.
This school year will mark the initial implementation of our school district’s new transportation policy.  The full policy can be found on our district website, but the short and the long of it is that in order to provide for the safety of our students, we are having to limit parents to 2 pick up points in the morning and 2 drop off points in the afternoon and these locations must be consistently scheduled for the year.  We have been working with parents over the summer to collect information on pick up and drop off points via our online survey.  For those parents who have completed the survey - thank you.  For those that have not, any information that is left blank after August 24 will be considered “incomplete”.  Schools and bus drivers with incomplete information will utilize the primary physical address of each student as the location for pick up and drop off points until parents can complete the required information and have it approved by our transportation office.  I would encourage any parents with questions to call either your school’s office, or the transportation office (839-8885). 
Some parents may be wondering about what the Gorham Schools will be doing with our Proficiency Based Learning (PBL) work since the legislature made a change to allow this work to be optional for diplomas just a month or so ago.  To be honest, I do not believe the legislature’s actions will have any impact on the work of the Gorham Schools in this area.  The Gorham Schools have been working on creating a standards-based learning system well before the law that created PBL was passed and I assume we will continue the work.  We have always made changes, collected feedback, and then been willing to “tweak” our practices based on that feedback using a slow and methodical approach to change.  The changes to the law made by the legislature this past session will allow us to maintain this slow and methodical approach.  Individuals interested in learning more about our system and planned work for the 2018-19 school year should check out our district website.  Under “About Us” there is a page dedicated to Proficiency Based Learning information for parents and community members that I think most would find very helpful.  In particular, I would encourage folks to review our 2018-19 PBL Handbook and to reach out directly to teachers, principals or myself with questions you may have.
As we enter the new school year I would like to make one big “pitch” to parents and students regarding the importance of regular school attendance.  This year, we will be focusing on the issue of chronic absenteeism in all schools across grades K-12.  Chronic absenteeism is defined by a student missing 10% of the total number of school days regardless of whether those absences were excused or unexcused.  For Gorham, that means students who miss 17 or more days of school over the course of the year.  Students who are chronically absent score lower on achievement scores in reading and in math.  Students who are chronically absent are more likely to become high school drop-outs.  Absenteeism in the first month of school can predict poor attendance throughout the school year.  In Gorham, our chronic absenteeism rate for 2017-18 was 6.8% across all schools.  That means that 6.8% of our total school population missed 17+ days of school.  That may not sound like much, but when you do the math, that means that almost 200 of our students are chronically absent!  Granted, those scores are lower than most schools, but it is still too high! 
Encouraging regular school attendance is one of the most powerful ways you can prepare your child for success – both in school and in life.  WE NEED YOUR HELP!  When you help us make school attendance a priority, you help your child get better grades, develop healthy life habits, and have a better chance of graduating from high school ready to successfully meet all the challenges life may have in store for them!  Please help us, help your child to make daily school attendance a priority!  Thank you! J 
We are all so very proud to be GORHAM RAMS!  I look forward to another great year!  Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns.  My email is heather.perry@gorhamschools.org and my office phone number is 222-2012.  See you all soon!  GO RAMS! J




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