Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Thursday April 30 Blog Update

Good afternoon/evening everyone!  Lots  to share so I'll get right to it without delay!

Governor's Recent Announcement & What It Means For Schools

On Tuesday, along with Governor Mill's announcement that she was extending the stay-at-home order through May 31st, she also outlined a four phase plan for how the state of Maine may re-open its businesses between June 1 and August 1, 2020.  The best summary of that plan I have found is LINKED HERE  if you'd like to review.

Of course, after reading this folks may ask the question, well what does this now mean for schools?  Also on Tuesday, Education Commissioner Pender Makin sent a message to all Superintendents across the state answering (at least partially) that very question.  Her message is LINKED HERE, please note the highlighted portions.

So bottom line, our schools will remain closed and distance learning in effect through June 16, 2020.  What we are working on now (among many things) is planning for what summer programming may look like and what our opening of school may look like.  As you saw in the Commissioner's response above, the state is also working on these issues and we will have answers to at least some of the myriad of questions associated with these complex decisions soon.  There is no question in my mind that we will be offering some form of summer programming this summer, especially for those most in need like some of our special education students.  The only thing I don't know YET is what these programs will look like, what students and what staff will be involved, and how these programs will inform how we open school differently this fall.  The minute I have these answers - you will too. Promise!  Please Stay Tuned!

End of Year Plans for Students Across Grades K-12

Last night the administrative team reported out to the School Committee on our plans for the end of the year.  I wanted to be sure to share these with you so you know what to expect.  Please note that although transition activities are mentioned in these plans, details are not shared - YET - on what those transition activities will be and how they will work. That is because we will be providing the School Committee with a specific report on just these activities at our May 13th School Committee meeting.  So once the School Committee has had a chance to review these transition plans,  I will share them with you as I am now with our end of year plans.

Here are our end of year plans broken out by Grade level:

K-5 Schools (plans for all 3 elementary schools)
Gorham Middle School
Gorham High School

Once again, more details on specific transition plans -  to include end of year step up days, job shadowing experiences, graduation celebrations, etc. will be made available after the School Committee Meeting on May 13th if not before.

As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to either myself or your building  principal via email.  We would be happy to answer any/all questions you may have! ☺

Town of Gorham STRONGLY ENCOURAGES Use of Absentee Ballots For July 14 Referendum

I just got this message from our Town Manager and Town Clerk.  I definitely agree given the circumstances that if it is possible to use the absentee method - PLEASE are the details from Ephrem and Laurie:

Absentee ballot applications are now available for the July 14, 2020 State Primary Election and Annual School Budget Election. During the current health pandemic in the United States and in Maine, the Town of Gorham highly recommends voting by Absentee Ballot. 
You may vote absentee by requesting a ballot and one will be mailed to you when they become available. Absentee ballots must be returned by 8:00pm on Election Day.
You may request a ballot online by clicking here:
You may also request a ballot by calling the Town Clerk’s Office at 222-1670, 222-1674 or 222-1676.
Gorham Schools Spirit Week Challenge - For Teacher 
Appreciation Week NEXT WEEK
Our Gorham School District Volunteers who are being honored this week are sending out a "challenge" to students for Teacher Appreciation Week that is scheduled for Next week!  Its simple...create a short video or photo of student(s) showing school spirit to the email provided below and enter in the name of a Gorham School Staff member that you'd like to nominate to win a daily drawing prize!  More detailed information is LINKED HERE and included below!  Let's show how our teachers how much we care - even from a distance! 
Principal Appreciation Day TOMORROW
These next few weeks have all kinds of celebrations of all of those who contribute to schools.  Tomorrow (Friday) is Principal Appreciation Day!  If you want to share a THANK YOU to our principals, please feel free to post on your twitter and facebook accounts and use the #Gorhamprincipalsrock  
During times of crisis, leadership become so important...and we are extremely blessed with some of the best building leaders around!  I know I reap the rewards of their skilled leadership daily!  THANK YOU to our building principals for all that they do... here are their names and email addresses in case you'd like to personally thank them too!
-  Becky Fortier, Great Falls Elementary School (
-  Cynthia Remick, Narragansett Elementary School (
-  Brian Porter, Village Elementary School (
-  Quinton Donahue, GMS (
-  Brian Jandreau, GHS (

Volunteer Appreciation Week This Week
We have some of the best darn volunteers around!  THANK YOU for all that you have done, are doing, and will do for the Gorham Schools!  Here's a few "thank you notes" shared by folks:

Results of Parent Thought Exchange Survey
THANK YOU to all the parents who participated!  Awesome feedback!  Please know we have already begun to use it to help inform continued decision making on our distance learning journey together!
If you are interested in the results, please CLICK HERE to read a brief letter from Assistant Superintendent Chris Record and then find a link to the information collected.  
Superintendent's 360 Evaluation Survey - TO INCLUDE 
What better time to seek feedback from those you work with in leadership than during the middle of unprecedented change!  Each year, I ask all Gorham Schools staff, members of the administrative team and members of the Gorham School Committee to participate in a leadership survey aimed at helping me to improve my practices as a district leader.  This year I have decided to add Parents to this list and to also seek your very important voice in helping me to identify areas within which I can improve as a leader and areas that I may already have strength.  
Below is a link to this survey.  I would ask that if you are interested, please take 10-15 minutes to complete this survey and provide for me this very important feedback.  The survey is completely anonymous.  Results will be shared in summary form with the Gorham School Committee and will be used to help inform my evaluation process and my goal setting for the 2020-21 School Year.  
If you have any questions, please ask - otherwise CLICK HERE to participate in the survey!  
A Quick Reminder About How We Can All Help Prevent the 
Spread of COVID-19
I are all probably sick of hearing this, but that's typically when reminders are good - when we want to begin ignoring them desperately, but know we shouldn' here goes - nice and quick...
•   Practice Physical Distancing.
•   Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
•   Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
•   Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
•   Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
•   Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
•   Stay home when you are sick except to get medical care.

A Learning Resource for our Older Students and Parents
I realized recently that I had provided over time several different resources for parents and students that might be beneficial to the learning of younger students, but I hadn't really shared much focused on our older students.  I came across this little resource for students and parents in grades 9-12 that I thought folks would really enjoy.  Thank you Sandra Rocket our talented librarian at GHS for sharing!  Check it out!
A Nice Article - Thought I'd Share
In closing I saw this article over the April vacation that I thought was really just a great way to refocus and help me to "square my own shoulders" sort to speak and fortify for the next leg in our journey together.  I thought it was worth sharing excerpts with all of you...

Excerpt from an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education Written by Aisha S. Ahmad, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto
Rather than cling to illusions of normalcy and control, let the alternate universe teach you all-new ways to be and do. The world is different. So let’s be different, too. For this strange period in our lives, we have the opportunity to learn entirely new approaches to productivity, knowledge, connection, community, and happiness. There is a new space opening up between the walls and restrictions of this pandemic. Approach this new space as a visiting student, learning the ropes. Try to embrace this opportunity with curiosity and willingness.
Protect your mental health and emotional resilience. I know from experience how draining it can be to try to remain hopeful and teachable in the face of prolonged disaster conditions. A few simple tools can help prevent a downward spiral and facilitate a successful personal transformation.
(read more starts here…) To start, it is toxic to compare your situation to anyone else’s, particularly to those who you think are better off.
Watch for these reactions, and try to notice if your anger is coming from a place of envy or self-pity. Don’t judge yourself — just take note of it as an important clue to your own daily mental wellness. If you find yourself fixating on what someone else has, change the channel. Wish everyone well. Then close the door. A little mental discipline in this area will pay dividends.
Actively shift your focus to gratitude. This is a practical and effective tool for remaining mentally resilient under sustained disaster conditions. If you’re new to this practice, make it a formal exercise with a small team of people who face comparable conditions and challenges. Every morning, write down 10 things you are grateful for in the here and now. Don’t include the things that you miss, or the things you can’t wait to do when the pandemic is over. Focus only on the light and relief you can find right now. Dig deep. Get a little sappy. Then share your list with your team to start your day. A regular practice of gratitude can help keep you in good humor, even under prolonged disaster conditions.
Of course, none of these mental exercises can be done perfectly. If you lose a day because you fought with your spouse, got into a Twitter war, watched 10 hours of cable news, and ate a bag of Cheetos, just let it go. Who cares? Nobody is going to get an A-plus in cheerful pandemic living, so cut yourself and everyone else some slack. Take this pandemic one day at a time.
Gorham Business Exchange "Split the Tab" Campaign 
If you aren't aware of this awesome way to help Gorham's small should definitely check this out!  Our small businesses have done sooooo very much for us in the past - it would be awesome if we can all find a way to "return the favor" and this is definitely a great way to think about doing that!  Check it out!

Also, did you know these fine Gorham businesses are either open or re-opening soon?
GHOP is Reopening!
Tuesday, May 5th
We will reopen for takeout & curbside pickup service only. We have made changes to help with safety measures for our customers & staff.

Call us at (207) 839-2504

Our modified hours will be:
Sunday-Thursday: 11AM - 8PM
Friday & Saturday 11AM - 9PM
Online Menu
Junction Bowl Reopens
Thursday, April 30th
We will reopen for takeout & curbside pickup service only on Thursday, April 30th at 4PM.

Call us at (207) 222-7600

Our modified hours will be: Thursday: 4-8PM
Friday: 4-8PM
Saturday: 4-8PM
Online Menu
Mister Bagel is Back!
Thursday, April 30th
We are back! Reopening on Thursday, April 30th at 6AM! See you then & please spread the word to friends & family! 

Call us at (207) 839-2802

Our modified hours will be:
Thursday & Friday: 6AM-1PM
Saturday & Sunday: 7AM-12PM

Online Menu
Ocean Gardens Reopens!
Wednesday, April 22nd
Open Wednesday - Saturday from 3PM to 7PM for curbside pickup only. You don't even have to get out of your car; we come to you!

Call us at (207) 839-7651

Our modified hours will be:
Wednesday - Saturday: 3PM-7PM

Online Menu
Curbside Pickup MK Kitchen!
Monday, March 16th
Enjoy MK at home tonight, preorders start at 2:30! Call ahead & place your order with a pick up time between 3:30 & 7PM. Pay by card over the phone & we will bring your dinner out to your car in our parking lot. 

Call us at (207) 222-2588

Our modified hours will be:
Tuesday-Saturday: 3:30-7PM

Online Menu
Angelo's Pizzeria Reopens!
Thursday, April 23rd
Angelo's is committed to protecting our community while still cooking our amazing food! Please call ahead to place your order.

Call us at (207) 839-7651

Our modified hours will be:
Monday: Closed
Friday: 11AM-8PM
Tuesday-Sunday: 12PM-7PM

Online Menu

Monday, April 27, 2020

Monday April 27 Update

Welcome back from the April "stay-cation".  I hope you were all able to unplug and relax at least a little bit.  The weather cooperated - mostly - although I don't know about you, but I am still looking for spring temperatures! Hopefully that consistently warmer weather will be coming soon!

Before I "dive in" to my update, I did want to let folks know that starting this week I am going to move to a TWO DAY per week format for updates rather than the three days I had been doing.  For this week, I am going to make posts on Monday and Thursday and then starting next week, my posts will consistently be coming out on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week.  I'm sure you will all thank me for easing up on filling your "inboxes" one less day per week! ☺  Here goes!

This week is Volunteer Appreciation Week


Our school volunteers are at the heart of everything that we do here in Gorham.  Typically during this time of the year we'd be having school based celebrations of our volunteers in face to face settings to acknowledge all your hard work and dedication to our schools.  Unfortunately, this year that isn't possible...however...what I can do is encourage folks to share their "Thank You's" for our school volunteers! 

I have created a shared folder where anyone from the public can drop a "Thank you" note into the folder that can be shared with volunteers...if you want to contribute a Thank you Note or picture thanking our school volunteers for all that they do, please drop in a note by Thursday...I will then organize and share the folder broadly with the public so everyone can see just how much we care for our volunteers! 

Here's the link to the public google folder.  Again, just drop in a thank you note, or a picture drawn by students, etc. to thank our volunteers...I'll organize and re-share on Thursday!

In the meantime, please know that even though we can't be together to personally thank our school volunteers - that doesn't mean you are any less appreciated!  Our parent and community volunteers and the lifeblood of our great school community...and part of the "glue" that holds us together!  THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT YOU HAVE DONE FOR OUR SCHOOLS!

Upcoming Gorham School Committee Meetings

Just wanted you all to be aware of the next few upcoming School Committee meetings.  The first one is coming up on Wednesday of this week, April 29, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.  This meeting will be a special meeting.  You can find the agenda LINKED HERE along with the zoom link at the top of the agenda if you'd like to join us.  Also, please remember that all SC zoom meetings are being recorded and posted via GoCat on the Town's website and on our website as well.

Also on April 29, before the special meeting the Facilities Committee will be meeting at 5:30 p.m.  You can find that agenda LINKED HERE. The zoom meeting link is at the top of the agenda. The major work with this committee is to work to "regroup" given our new circumstances with COVID-19 and to re-think some of our timelines and project ideas for the summer/fall and beyond.  Again, this meeting will be recorded, and minutes posted on our website.

After these meetings on the 29th, the next big meeting to be aware of will be the Joint budget presentation meeting with the Town Council scheduled for May 12 at 6:30 p.m. There is some question as to whether or not this meeting will occur as planned and we should have that worked out and finalized by the end of this week so stay tuned.  Once I have the link information and agenda, I will be sure to share. 

There will also be a "regular" zoom meeting of the Gorham School Committee scheduled for Wednesday, May 13th.  The agenda has not yet been set but once that is completed I will also share.

As a reminder to everyone - you can always follow ALL School Committee related meetings on our Gorham website by CLICKING HERE and scrolling over to "Upcoming Events" on the main page.  When you click on the actual event listed, you will see zoom connection information there as well!

Some Great Follow Up

So just a few things I've shared before and have some follow up information to share now.  Remember, I shared about our 3D Printing "Ninjas" at GMS?  Well, they continue to be active printing protectors for face much so that local news did a story on them.  If you haven't already seen it - HERE IS THE LINK!  Check it out!  They have also developed a GoFundMe page to help purchase filament needed to print...if you are interested in helping this effort, here's the link.

Operation Feed Gorham is back on its "usual" hours after having served lunches on Tuesdays and Thursdays last week during vacation.  We had some very special "volunteers" last week at our satellite locations when members of the district's leadership team helped man the stations on these two days.  A few cool pictures below...I especially like the one where Dr. Record had his daughter dressed up as a Gorham Ram!  Shhh - don't tell anyone but she attends Scarborough High School!


Again, Operation Feed Gorham is back on its Monday, Wednesday, and Friday serving schedule at its four satellite locations (Village Elem. Great Falls Elem. GMS and GHS) from 11:00 - 1:00 each day.  As always, any questions, please reach out to our Director, Michael Sanborn at

Another follow up is in regards to our #separatedbutnotdivided campaign.  This work wrapped up just before the April break...and was able to raise a total of $10,920.00 to support the Gorham Backpack Program and the Gorham Food Pantry equally.  Awesome work!  Thank you Neile and Sarah!

Before we broke for the April "stay-cation" I also mentioned that Ruths' reusable (in conjunction with UNUM) donated 100+ books to families here in Gorham.  Well those were distributed to families over the break by our very own Gorham Recreation Department Volunteers!  THANK YOU Gorham Recreation for your assistance!  I know students and their families who received these books will put them to great use!


Also, do you remember about two weeks before the break, I shared with all of you a poem written by one of our K-5 students in Gorham?  It was an INCREDIBLE poem...that spoke deeply to me about the struggles our students were experiencing with distance learning and being away from their friends and teachers...well our little poet has created another poem I also wanted to share.  I hope she keeps writing for us all!

Making Meaning - GMS Student Art Project

GMS students working with art teacher Amy Cousins put together a photographic "story" of their experience thus far in our distance learning world.  This was completed just before the break.  We have some extremely talented students - and this is just a prime example of the incredible learning that is going on even while we are apart!  Check it out by CLICKING HERE!  Nice work GMS students!  Proud to be a Ram!

Incoming Kindergarten Screening Postponed

At this time, we will be postponing the June Kindergarten screening dates at all Elementary Schools. The new dates have yet to be determined but as soon as we have this information, we will be in touch with families. If you have not enrolled your student for next year please take a minute to do the online registration. You can contact your Elementary School Secretary with any questions!

Great Falls -
Village -
Narragansett -

A Great New Learning Resource

I wanted to share with all of you a great new learning resource from our very own Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN). 

Maine Public, the Maine Department of Education, and Educate Maine have joined forces to create original, educational programming for students in grades 3 through 5. Dedicated teachers from across Maine have developed original video lessons, pulling content from their own lesson plans and sources to provide exceptional learning opportunities for Maine students.  Our very own Heather Whitaker (GMS Alternative Ed. Teacher) and Allie Rimkunas (Great Falls Art Teacher) are contributing members!  This is high quality educational programming that is local...check it out by CLICKING HERE!

In closing (For today) I wanted to share with all of you that our K-12 Principals will be presenting their end of year plans for this school year to the School Committee at the meeting on Wednesday night.  Once we have presented these plans to the school committee, I will be sharing them with you on Thursday in my next blog.  This information will help students, parents, and staff better understand what we are planning for the end of this school year in order to ensure everything that needs to be accomplished is accomplished and accomplished in only the most excellent of ways that Gorham is expecting of us!  Please stay tuned to my Thursday Blog post for more information!

Friday, April 17, 2020

Friday April 17 Blog Update

Today is Administrative Assistants Day!  If you want to take a minute and reach out to your school's office assistant, feel free to do so via email...we certainly couldn't run our schools face to face, OR virtually without them!  

This is the last blog update before the April break so I thought I'd keep it pretty light with just a few "serious" pieces...I'll do the serious pieces first, then share some "good stuff" and end with a quick video from me!

School Committee Passes FY 21 Proposed Budget

The Gorham School Committee voted 6-1 on Wednesday night to approve of a proposed FY 21 budget.  Here are some of the significant changes to be found:


*  .5 Adaptive PE teacher for Grades K-12
*  School Counselor Position at Narragansett Elem. School
*  Assistant Principal at Narragansett Elem. School
*  Math Lab Teacher at Narragansett Elem. School
*  GMS Health Teacher
*  Speech Therapist (GF/Vil. Elem.)
*  .3 OT (Village)
*  1 Ed. Tech. (FLS Narragansett)
*  Increase School Psychologist to Full Time
*  1 Ed. Tech (Narragansett RR)
*  1 Ed. Tech (GMS FLS)
*  GHS I Pads
*  K-1 I Pads
*  Reveal Math Pilot
*  Additional Funds for Summer School Programming


*  Electricity/Propane Reductions
*  Reduction 1 bus route (unfilled from FY 20)
*  Movement of some CIPS projects into proposed Bond
*  2 Elementary Ed. Techs.

The proposed FY 21 Budget totals $43,101,605.00 and represents a 5.10% increase in expenditures over the final approved FY 20 budget of $41,010,532.00.  This expenditure increase includes an amount of $150,000.00 at the request of the Town Council to establish a reserve account for unfunded summer benefits.  If that figure is subtracted from the proposed budget, the increase would then be $1,941,073.00 or 4.7%. This proposed budget represents a 4.46% increase in local appropriation need, an overall increase of $965,981.00.  Assuming General Purpose Aid (GPA) remains status quo, and the actual FY 21 property tax base increases by just $15,000,000.00, the impact of this budget on the mil rate is an estimated increase of 3.55% or $0.45 on the mil.  This is the lowest requested mil increase from the school department in the last four fiscal years (FY 17 = .87, FY18 = .67, FY 19 = 1.55, FY 20 = .79). 

The next step in the budget process is to deliver the proposed budget to the Town Council by April 22, 2020 to meet charter requirements. Then we have a May 12th scheduled joint budget workshop meeting with the Town Council and a scheduled vote on the total municipal budget by the Town Council on June 2, 2020. At this point that June date MAY change due to requirements of moving the regularly scheduled June referendum to July - so stay tuned as we get closer to June for updates on the timeline.

School Committee Upcoming Meeting Schedule

The next two School Committee meetings are:

*  April 29, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. - Special Meeting
*  May 13, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. - Regular Meeting

You can find Agendas by CLICKING HERE.  At the top of each agenda will be information on how to connect via zoom.

Have you seen these videos from Our Staff?

Just saw a couple of great videos from our staff to students...thought I'd share more broadly...check them out:

Village School Message to Students
Great Falls "Staying Fit" message to Students

I am also aware of some incredible videos that are being created that are scheduled to come out after the April break - so keep your eyes out for those!

April Break - What to do?

I know many parents may be wondering what they can do with children over the course of the April vacation while "distance learning" takes a little break.  I came across this great resource online that I thought parents might appreciate - its called:  100 things you can do at home while social distancing!  Some really creative ideas!

Here's another  great resource (more elementary focused) made by one of our teachers for things to do as well...

Taking Stock Video from Mrs. Perry

Here's the link to my video...just over 10 minutes - so not too long!  ☺


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Wednesday April 15 Update

I hope you are all "hanging in there"...just a few more days before we all get a little break and at least a slight "taste of normal"with our regularly scheduled April vacation.  With any luck, mother nature will cooperate and weather will allow us all to UNPLUG for a bit...and enjoy the natural beauty of the great state we live in!  Here is some updated information!

Operation Feed Gorham Reminder

Just a quick reminder that Operation Feed Gorham will be operational during the break, however the distribution days will change due to the holiday and other needs.  All four sites will remain operational and home deliveries will occur - but they will occur on Tuesday and Thursday next week rather than our usual MWF. 

Once we return from the break (April 17)...we will go back to our Monday, Wednesday, Friday distribution days.

Just so you are aware we are now up to 360 meals per day in distribution through Operation Feed Gorham, PLUS another 80-100 "backpacks" distributed to families each week through our Backpack program!  Those that are working in this program are providing such an essential service to our children and to our community.  THANK YOU for all that you are doing!  Keep up the awesome  work!

If you have questions please reach out to

Gorham Business Exchange Launches #GorhamStrong Website 

Our local small businesses have for years carried the community of Gorham through so many difficult times and they have been there with us to help us celebrate the awesomeness that is our community!  Now they need us to return the favor...if you are interested in supporting our small businesses here in Gorham, check out the link below to learn more about HOW YOU CAN!


Revised Learning Guidelines and Expectations Documents

As a result of our announcement last week that our distance learning programs will be extended through to the end of the school year, we have made some important revisions to some of our guidelines and expectations documents that I thought you should all be aware of.

First, we will be strengthening the message for all teachers in grades K-12 that work should be "sent out" to students/families on one day that includes a week's worth of work.  The intent here is to allow students/families to be able to see the whole week's worth of requirements in order to help them plan and map out their week on what may be very different learning schedules.

Then, in conjuction with that adjustment, we are creating a flexible learning day each week.  Now, this may look slightly different and be on a different day of the week for various schools.  Here's the purpose:

Purpose: In order to lessen the burden on students and families, one day per week across all grade levels will
be used as a flexible learning day. No new learning or expectations will be presented as students
are given the opportunity to catch up on work and engage in other optional offerings.
*All support services will continue their small group/individual “Zoom” sessions as needed.

This learning day will allow for the following:

  • Time to Catch-Up on Work 
  • A Social Emotional Connection through a “Zoom” or “Google Meet” Classroom Meeting
  • Participation in a Class Read Aloud
  • Participation in Creative Arts Offerings (k-5)
  • Engagement in Optional Enrichment or Class Challenges
  • Opportunities to Receive Small Group/Individual Interventions

Here are the updated distance learning guidelines and expectations showing these shifts.

K-5 Distance Learning Guidelines and Expectations

GMS Distance Learning Guidelines and Expectations

GHS Distance Learning Guidelines and Expectations

All of this is to make sure we are continuing our focus on providing Social  and Emotional Learning support for our students as a first priority and then providing opportunities to grow academically after these SEL needs are addressed.

I came across this visual used by Gorham High School Principal Brian Jandreau that I believe helps explain why this focus is so important and why we will strive to maintain this focus here in Gorham:

And as if this focus on Maslow's Hierarchy of needs were not enough to make it clear that we are focusing on the right things here in Gorham as we continue our distance learning journey together...a poem written by one of our very own elementary students cemented it for me earlier today when I read it.  I have removed the student's name from the poem and replaced it with their initials...please read and know that this student is incredibly resilient and is being provided all the appropriate supports needed and they are just fine ...they are also clearly a budding poet for having so clearly expressed in words what many of our students are feeling.

Again, reading this poem certainly helps me to clarify priorities in our distance learning work with students.  As educators, our role right now is to provide support, structure, and a helping hand to families as needed.  It is to differentiate the needs of our students and families and to ensure that each student feels connected to our school and our community and most definitely to ensure that we all realize we are NOT ALONE.

FY 21 Budget  Approval Process Update

The Gorham School Committee has been able  to meet to work on the FY 21 budget development process and are now set to meet later tonight to vote on the proposed FY 21 budget.  As of right now, the proposed budget shows an overall increase of 5.10% in expenditures.  "Big" cost drivers for this increase include a 5.5% increase in health insurance premiums, contractually driven increases in salaries and an increase in the Capital Improvement Budget of a little over $250,000.00 to address continuing facilities needs across the district.  The proposed budget would reflect an increase of .45 cents on the mil, the lowest projected mil increase in the past five years for a school budget that continues to try and meet the demands of an increasing student population.  This proposed budget also allows our budgetary fund balance from FY 20 to grow so that it can be used to help address some of the "unknowns" that we anticipate for the coming years due to COVID-19.

The School Committee meeting is tonight at 7:00 p.m.  You can CLICK HERE for the agenda and the link for the zoom meeting is at the top.

Once the School Committee approves of a budget tonight, we will work to get the complete budget booklet to the Town Council by Wednesday, April 22 to meet the requirements of the Town Charter.  This will also be posted online and shared broadly with the public.  Once this is done, a  budget workshop meeting  is set up for May 12th at 6:30 p.m. via zoom. and then a planned vote by the Town Council on the School budget is scheduled for June 2nd at 6:30 p.m. also via zoom.  This last vote MAY have to be adjusted due to the fact  that the state's referendum has been moved to July rather than June so we may have to adjust timelines accordingly.

Also once the budget is approved tonight by the Gorham School Committee, I will send out a complete summary of the changes found within the budget in Friday's blog post update.

I wanted to commend the work of the Gorham School Committee and the District Leadership Team in being able to continue working on this important process even in the face of such uncertainty with COVID-19.  I am pleased with the results of the budget process thus far and have full faith that whatever the final FY 21 budget turns out to be, it will be the right one for Gorham.  Please stay tuned!

Gorham  Middle School 3D Printing Ninjas Update

Our integrationist, Terri Dawson came into school the other day to find 200 "ear protectors"  printed and waiting to be delivered to folks in need!  Fifty were delivered to Maine Medical Center and another 150 were delivered to a local nurse who is headed to New York to help folks there.  Its great to see our 3D printing Ninjas from GMS hard at work supporting our front line medical workers not just here in Maine but in New York as well!  AWESOME!  Here is what they look like when they are printed and in use.

Keep up the great work GMS Ninjas!

More Examples of Distance Learning In Action

Just wanted to share a few "action" photos of our students continuing their distance learning.  One picture below features students from Great Falls Elementary School's Civil Rights team sending some positive messages of hope to their peers.  The second picture shows one of our elementary students wearing her awesome Gorham "swag" reading a book that she will later have to do some reporting on.  Sure does look like a great book!

Update on End of Year Planning Work

Just wanted to make sure you were all aware that our teachers and district leadership team are continuing to work hard to map out how it is we will orchestrate a positive year end given the need to maintain social distancing.  Here are some of the big topics we are wrestling with and should be ready to start sharing information on after the April break:

*  How we will work to allow teachers to celebrate the ending of the year with their current class?
*  How we will work to conduct classroom placement processes via distance and communicate the results effectively to students and families?
*  How we will work to provide specific transition activities for students and families who are moving from one school to another to include incoming K students, students moving from Great Falls/Village Elem. to Narragansett Elem. as a result of attendance zone shifts, students moving from 5th grade to 6th grade, and students moving from 8th grade to 9th grade?
*  How we will work to provide necessary time to wrap up the school year for our GHS seniors and  find a meaningful way to celebrate them and  their families for 13 incredible years of work?
*  How will we collect data that allows us to  understand what skills students have been able to demonstrate via distance learning and what skills students may not have met so we can clearly identify  academic needs of students and put processes in place to ensure students are able to get "caught up" before the end of next  school year?

Just a few small questions to answer right?  No worries...we got this and will begin to communicate some of these answers to families as we come back from the break and move into the last portion of our school year.

Keep those Lines of Communication Open

I just want to take a moment to encourage parents of students  of all ages to please keep those lines of communication  open with your  child's classroom teachers.  As we continue to move through our distance learning  programming, some things  will continue to work and continue  to work  well, while other things may need to change to meet your family's needs.  I have heard from some parents who feel as though their children need more work, while I've also heard from some parents that there is still  too much.  As  you might imagine, that balance point is different for each family and the only way we can continue to strive to find that balance is through communication between  parents/students and teachers.

As you can see from the opening section above, our focus remains on the social emotional needs of our students and families first.  We are not attempting to try and do the "same work" as we would have been doing in "regular school" - we simply can't.  Our teachers are working day and  night to basically re-create lessons in smaller chunks or in different ways that allow students to access their learning via distance, but there is no question that it is not the same as "regular school".  We are also  trying to be mindful of what the "experts" are saying about what our distance learning instruction should look and feel like.  I found this great summary chart the other day that I think sums up what we are trying to do in our  new distance learning lesson planning.  Check it out:

The bottom line in all of this though is that in order for this programming to continue to be successful WE NEED YOU to keep communicating what is working and what isn't and why so that we can continue to differentiate our work to best meet the needs of our students and families.  So please, don't be bashful...reach out to your teachers...they need feedback too! ☺

Some Helpful Resources

Here are a few articles I thought folks might find helpful to review...

In this article, K-12 students are asked the question what's it like to learn from home...and they answered!

On this page, find resources from parents FOR parents to help augment your child's distance learning if that is something you are interested in doing:

Well that is it for today!  I'll send one more blog post out on Friday before the break!  In the meantime - stay well!