Sunday, October 28, 2018

K-5 Configuration Update and More

Before I jump into an update for parents on some recent decisions made by the school committee regarding K-5 Configurations and discussions regarding the length of the school day - I did want to congratulate ALL of our Fall Athletes for their incredible seasons - a few of which are still going on! 

The way all of our students in all of our programs represent the community of Gorham is to be commended!  Whenever I am "out and about" across the state, people always come up to me and talk about how polite our students are, how hard they compete, what great sportsmanship they demonstrate and how much passion our students have for whatever it is they are undertaking to do.

As we think about the recent tragic events in Pittsburgh, it is important to reflect on the way each of us holds ourselves in relationship to our fellow man.  We are truly blessed by the positive attitude of our incredible students towards one another and others and I know this doesn't happen by accident!  It takes all of us modeling this behavior in all that we do to maintain the strong positive environments we have.  Let's keep those positive attitudes going - not only for our students - but for ourselves and our fellow man!

    

  

Update on Recent School Committee Decision Regarding K-5 Configurations

The Gorham School Committee has been having some pretty in-depth conversations over the past two years or more regarding how best to address our increasing student enrollments here in Gorham.  Two years ago, the School Committee established a K-5 configuration study committee.  This committee undertook to study the best ways to address the problems associated with increasing enrollments and the decreasing capacity in our buildings.  This study committee presented its findings to the School Committee last spring.  At that time, the School Committee decided that the best way to move forward would be to develop a long-term K-5 facilities plan first and then use this vision to plan backward for shorter-term action steps.  The School Committee worked with an organization called NESDEC to conduct a long-term facilities study.  This study was conducted over the course of last spring and summer.  A report was developed and shared with the School Committee in late September and just last week the School Committee used that information along with other information collected over time to make at least one small determination as part of the larger work.  The determination that was reached by the School Committee is that our current K-5 community school structure is an important core component of our long-term facilities vision.

At last week's school committee workshop meeting, the school committee agreed that maintaining our K-5 community school structures was a paramount component to the development of our long-term K-8 facilities vision.  They are still working on the details of this long-term vision, but the decision to maintain our K-5 schools as part of that vision was a big step and one that is important to share with parents for sure.  Community members who are interested in viewing the results of the K-5 study committee and the NESDEC facilities study may click below to learn more. 

NESDEC Demographic Study Report
*  K-5 Configuration Study Committee Report
NESDEC Facilities study report

Update on Recent School Committee Discussions Regarding Length of School Day K-12

At the same time that the K-5 Reconfiguration study group was studying the best options for our existing configurations, another study group was created by the School Committee with two goals.  The School Day Committee was tasked with studying two things 1)  The viability of moving start times to later for our middle and high school students and 2) the viability of lengthening our school day across K-12 to address the fact that we currently have one of the shortest instructional days in all of Cumberland County.

The School Committee has decided to discuss these two items separately and to begin their deliberations first on the topic of the length of our current instructional day across grades K-12.  At our last workshop meeting, the School Committee was presented with updated information regarding current K-12 schedules that compared our instructional time with other area school systems.  You can view a summary of that data by CLICKING HERE.  What has become clear is that we are somewhere between 15-20 minutes shorter in our instructional day than other neighboring schools across grades K-12.

Because of this information, and the feedback from staff that annually states they feel as though there simply isn't enough time in the school day to instruct students in the things that matter most, the School Committee will be strongly considering the possibility of adding between 15-20  minutes onto the instructional day across all schools.  The School Committee has sought feedback from staff at this time but has not had an opportunity to gather feedback regarding this topic from parents.  As a means to this end, the School Committee will be using their annual visits to each school's PIE group to gather feedback on this important conversation before making any decisions.  I am currently working with all schools to set up these meetings between School Committee members and parents and will post them broadly once dates and times are finalized.  In the meantime, if you would like to share your thoughts on this topic with the School Committee please feel free to email either me (heather.perry@gorhamschools.org) or the chair of the School Committee, Darryl Wright (darryl.wright@gorhamschools.org).

Again, as mentioned above, the discussion regarding possible later start times has been set aside for the time being as the School Committee works through other priority items such as the creation of a long-term K-8 facilities vision and plan and the decision as to whether or not it would be in our student's best interest to extend our instructional day.  I will endeavor to do my best to keep parents informed as to how you can best participate in these conversations as we move along in the decision-making process.

Thank you!



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